Best Colleges in Vermont

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Vermont is home to over 30 colleges and universities, including some of the nation’s most renowned agricultural institutions, as well as ample technical and vocational colleges. If you commit to pursuing an education in the state, you will have no shortage of options.

Fortunately, we have applied our rigorous methodology to the latest education data to rank the best colleges in Vermont, including the top four-year and two-year schools. We also take into consideration each college’s debt-to-earning ratio, as we know the ability to pay off your student loans after graduation is essential.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Vermont is home to several of the oldest bachelor-granting institutions in the nation, and two are counted as highly competitive, according to a recent NY Times ranking. The state also boasts a wealth of resources for students hoping to attend a 4-year school, such as the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, or VSAC; the nonprofit organization provides applicants and attendees of Vermont universities with extensive assistance and support. Unfortunately, Vermont does not rank well in terms of state education funding, but a recent legislative effort is seeking to change this — and in turn, funnel more dollars directly to tuition relief for students. Below we’ve listed the top four-year institutions to assist you in your search.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description    
1

Middlebury College

 5/594.1%Middlebury, VT

campus-middlebury-college

At Middlebury College, courses focus on the environment and international education, providing students with a global perspective on complex, real-world issues. Middlebury emphasizes reflection, discussion, and extensive interaction between students and faculty. A nationally renowned college, MC is widely regarded as one of the best liberal arts colleges in Vermont.

Students receive a well-rounded education through a set of core requirements encompassing seven academic categories. Students can then choose from a range of majors, including the sciences, dance, creative writing, and philosophy. MC views the study-abroad experience as integral to its academic program, and each year more than 50% of the school’s junior class travels internationally.

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2

Saint Michael’s College

 5/579.19%Colchester, VT

campus-saint-michaels-college

Saint Michael’s is a small liberal arts school near downtown Burlington. The college passes its guiding principles of education, justice, and service to the poor on down to students. Because of its close-knit community and emphasis on academic rigor, St. Michael’s is one of the best and most prestigious liberal arts colleges in Vermont.

The school offers pre-law, pre-med, and pre-dental degree programs. With just under 2,000 students and over 30 majors, the school has a 12:1 faculty-student ratio and an average class size of just 19 students. Housing is guaranteed for all four-years and all students live on campus. St. Michael’s also features 21 NCAA Division II varsity athletic teams, and provides an all-access ski pass to students at a local resort.

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3

University of Vermont

 3/575.58%Burlington, VT

campus-university-of-vermont

With approximately 12,000 students the University of Vermont is the largest college in Vermont, and is the state’s premier research university. Students receive instruction from internationally renowned faculty and participate in hands-on learning projects and programs.

UVM offers 100 majors in seven undergraduate schools, along with four pre-professional options, including pre-vet, pre-med, pre-dental, and pre-law. There are over 200 clubs on campus, including a nationally recognized debate team, and 18 NCAA Division I sports teams. Experience-based learning is a priority at UVM, and over 91% of seniors are involved in research studies or internship programs.

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4

Bennington College

 5/567.37%Bennington, VT

campus-bennington-college

Bennington is a private liberal arts college within walking distance of historic North Bennington. Bennington follows the teacher-practitioner model of teaching, which means that all faculty work in their fields. At Bennington, the average class size is 13 and students can expect to receive personal instruction.

Through the “Plan Process,” students design their own programs of study. Each year, Bennington requires students to spend seven weeks at work in the world, making Bennington ideal for students seeking practical career experience. Bennington was also the first college to include the visual and performing arts in a liberal arts education, and is considered by some to be the birthplace of modern dance.

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5

Norwich University

 5/557.66%Northfield, VT

campus-norwich-university

Norwich is the oldest private military college in the country, and the only military school among Vermont’s colleges. At Norwich, students can choose between a military or civilian lifestyle. Students learn through interactive and hands-on classes, as well as mentoring relationships with faculty.

The Corps of Cadets was founded on the belief that a structured military lifestyle combined with rigorous academics benefits students pursuing careers in the military or the private sector. Cadet students are challenged physically and mentally, and participate in military training, class instruction, and extracurricular activities each day. Norwich is home to an Emmy award-winning communications program, and a nationally renowned school of engineering.

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6

Marlboro College

 5/559.04%Marlboro, VT

Marlboro College cultivates a close-knit community of engaged and independent thinkers. The combined enrollment for undergraduate and graduate programs is less than 500 students, making Marlboro one of the smallest colleges in Vermont.

At Marlboro, students create an individualized plan of study based on their own academic interests and goals. Every student is required to complete a plan of concentration, focused on an academic theme approved by the faculty. This program often filters students into graduate programs. In addition to traditional study abroad programs, Marlboro has a World Study Program that includes a six-to-eight month internship in a foreign country.

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7

College of St Joseph

 4/546.51%Rutland, VT

The College of St. Joseph is a career-oriented liberal arts school located in Rutland. With only 300 undergraduate students, the campus offers a family-like environment and unmatched student-faculty interaction. CSJ is the most affordable Catholic college in Vermont.

CSJ offers over 30 majors, including degrees in criminal justice, education, business, psychology, and human services, among others. At CSJ, students receive a career-oriented approach to education focused on fieldwork and community service. As part of their Provider Scholarship Program, selected students receive financial aid worth a total of $65,000; as part of their package, they must also complete over 15 hours of community service each semester.

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8

Champlain College

 5/557.12%Burlington, VT

Champlain College is a small private institution located in Burlington, with additional campuses in Montreal and Dublin. CC takes a career-driven approach to education and offers professionally-focused undergraduate programs that emphasize experiential learning.

Students at Champlain can major in a variety of career-oriented fields, including game design, and computer and digital forensics. Majors are divided into four categories, including business, communication and creative media, education and human studies, and information technology and sciences. CC also boasts an extensive internship program and the school maintains close ties with local businesses.

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9

Castleton State College

 3/548.58%Castleton, VT

Castleton was Vermont’s first college, and the school is a member of the Vermont State Colleges. Castleton emphasizes liberal arts and professional education. The average class size is 17 students and the faculty are all experts in their field. Students work closely with professors and will find opportunities to learn both inside and outside the classroom.

Castleton is known for its Soundings series, which includes concerts, dance performances, films, and lectures. All first and third year students enroll in a Soundings seminar to develop a broader appreciation for the liberal arts. Castleton is also committed to sustainability and encourages students to help reduce the campus’ carbon footprint.

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10

Green Mountain College

 5/547.95%Poultney, VT

Green Mountain College is located in Poultney, and is one of the greenest colleges in Vermont. GMC is a liberal arts college with an environmental mission, and the school was a founding member of the Eco League consortium of environmental colleges. Students will find that sustainability is a unifying theme across all undergraduate majors.

All students are required to complete the school’s 37-credit environmental liberal arts sequence, which is a cross-disciplinary program that prepares students for green careers. Innovative majors include renewable energy and ecological design, adventure education, and wilderness and outdoor therapy. GMC also owns an 80-acre nature preserve and an on-campus working farm. GMC is ideal for students passionate about the environment and sustainability.

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11

Lyndon State College

 3/537.32%Lyndonville, VA

Lyndon State is a small public school that emphasizes hands-on learning in practical environments. Experience is the hallmark of a Lyndon education, and students are empowered to gather knowledge both inside and outside of the classroom.

Lyndon’s majors blend the liberal arts with professional programs. Students can major in a variety of career-oriented fields, including meteorology, mountain recreation management, electronic journalism, and the atmospheric sciences. The school is known for its outdoor sports, and the campus boasts a climbing center, skate park, ropes course, and winter terrain park.

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12

Johnson State College

 3/535.81%Johnson, VT

Located in Stowe, Johnson State is a member of the Vermont State College system. JSC provides students with an interdisciplinary liberal arts education, and professors take a hands-on approach to learning. With approximately 2,000 undergraduates, students feel at home at Johnson State, and enjoy close relationships with peers and faculty members.

At JSC, students can take classes in a variety of departments, including business, writing, humanities, and the behavioral sciences. The college has a partnership with Vermont Law School, which helps qualifying graduates transition into the program. JSC is also considered one of the most affordable colleges in Vermont, and works with JumpStart and Early College programs to help high school students earn tuition-free college credits.

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13

Southern Vermont College

 4/535.88%Bennington, VT

Southern Vermont is a small private school in Bennington. SVC has a career-focused liberal arts curriculum that encourages students to become socially responsible and engaged citizens.

The college has five academic divisions: business, humanities, nursing, science and technology, and the social sciences. Students with specific academic interests can also create their own cross-departmental study program. SVC is home to a simulation lab, where nursing and radiologic sciences students can engage in simulated learning on computer programmed patients. The school also offers a law school preparation program that emphasizes coursework in history, politics, English, and statistics.

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Two-year institutions can be a great choice for students seeking a more affordable path to a college degree; this is especially a concern in the New England state, as it is one of six in the nation with a 2:1 ratio (or greater) of family-to-state contribution, meaning students and parents pay more from their own pockets. However, Vermont has a great selection of associate-granting institutions that prioritize accessibility — two of the most prominent in the state, Vermont Community College and Vermont Technical College, (collectively) have campuses within 25 miles of nearly every inhabited area of the state. Review our complete ranked list of two-year schools below.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description    
1

Vermont Technical College

 3/554.64%Randolph Center, VT

campus-vermont-technical-college

As Vermont’s only technical college, VTC offers students the opportunity to learn from professors who are all experts in their field. Students receive focused classroom instruction and hands-on experience. VTC’s majors reflect real-world workforce demands, and prepare students for careers in agriculture, construction management, and computers and IT.

Vermont Tech also offers a wide range of clubs and activities, including intramural sports. The school has two residential campuses to choose from, each offering student housing and a range of degree programs. Additional highlights include an on-campus apple orchard and an operating dairy farm.

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2

Landmark College

 5/523.08%Putney, VT

campus-landmark-college

Landmark is the premier college in Vermont for students with learning disabilities. The school offers two-year degree programs specifically tailored to students with dyslexia, ADHD, and ASD. Landmark uses an innovative educational model to work with students who learn differently, and its curriculum enables them to master academic skills, gain confidence, and become independent learners.

Landmark’s degree programs are rigorous and academically challenging. Two-year degree candidates can earn an associate degree in business studies, life sciences, or liberal studies. Located in a rural setting, the campus is home to 100 acres of wooded trails, a rope course, and a climbing wall.

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3

Community College of Vermont

 2/517.38%Winooski, VT

campus-community-college-of-vermont

CCV is a nonresidential college making higher education accessible for everyone. The school has an open admissions policy, broad transfer opportunities, affordable courses, and locations across Vermont. At CCV, students can attend day, evening, or weekend courses, and they have the option of pursuing an associate degree or certificate program completely online.

CCV offers a range of associate degree programs for two-year students, including education, criminal justice, and hospitality and tourism. The school has extensive transfer agreements with over 20 four-year colleges. In addition, 70% of CCV students receive financial aid.

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If you’re thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in Vermont, continuing reading to learn more about living in the Green Mountain State.

Vermont’s stunning landscapes and varied climate make it a great place for students to live and study. Across its 9,616 square miles are a wealth of thriving-yet-intimate cities and towns; Montpelier, for example, is the nation’s smallest state capitol. However, Vermont is not small on attractions, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. The state boasts over 40 ski areas and resorts, and many of these are repurposed in the summer months by mountain bikers and hikers. Those interested in American history shouldn’t miss the Hubbardton Battlefield, where daily civil war reenactments and year-round exhibits can be enjoyed, as well as Plymouth Notch, a well-preserved 18th century village and the birthplace of former President Calvin Coolidge.

Although Vermont is modest in size, each region has unique and distinct features; to the north west is Lake Champlain, as well as the state’s most populous city, Burlington. The Northeast, or Northeast Kingdom, is comprised mainly of forest and is the least populous region. Central is home to the Vermont’s capital; to the south is the Green Mountain National Forest.

REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT: NORTHWEST VERMONT

  • Major Cities: Burlington, South Burlington, St. Albans, Williston
  • Attractions: Lake Champlain, Shelburne Museum, Vermont Quilt Festival, Church Street Marketplace
  • Cost of Living: Burlington’s Numbeo Cost of Living
  • Popular Schools: University of Vermont, Saint Michael’s College, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT: NORTHEAST VERMONT

  • Major Cities: Newport, Brighton, Barton, Glover, Burke
  • Attractions: Stratton Mountain Ski Resort, Kingdom Trails, Seymour Lake
  • Cost of Living: Newport’s Areavibes Cost of Living
  • Popular Schools: Lyndon State College, Sterling College, Springfield College

REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT: CENTRAL VERMONT

  • Major Cities: Montpelier, Berlin, Middlesex, Williamstown
  • Attractions: Sullivan Military Museum, Wrightsville Beach, Lost Nations Theater
  • Cost of Living: Montpelier’s Numbeo Cost of Living
  • Popular Schools: Norwich University, Middlesex College, Union Institute and University

REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT: SOUTHERN VERMONT

  • Major Cities: Rutland, Hartford, Bennington, Brattleboro
  • Attractions: Green Mountain National Forest, Weston Playhouse, Southern Vermont Arts Center
  • Cost of Living: Rutland’s Areavibes Cost of Living
  • Popular Schools: Castleton University, Marlboro College, Bennington College, Green Mountain College

RESIDENCY

Vermont’s combination of historic towns and beautiful landscape make this east coast state a great choice for students. As the cost of living can be high, especially in metropolitan areas such as Burlington, those who have decided to pursue an education there would be well-advised to obtain residency as soon as possible to guarantee in-state tuition rates.

FOR MINORS:

A minor’s residency depends on their parent or guardian. If you are under 18, you must provide proof that one or more parents have residency in Vermont, and you must live with that parent full time.

FOR ADULTS:

For tuition purposes, the criteria below must be met if a student is to be considered a resident of Vermont:

  • You must live in Vermont for at least 12 consecutive months before the first day of the quarter you intend to enroll.
  • Your income (or financial support) must come from within the state.
  • You must prove that you are not in Vermont solely for the purpose of an education and that you intend to make the state your permanent home.

Additional Resources for Vermont College Students:

COLLEGE SAVINGS

EDUCATION NONPROFITS

HIGHER EDUCATION NEWS

OFFICIAL STATE LINKS