The Best Private Colleges In Each State for English Majors

Curious about where to go for your English studies, or if you made the right decision? We answer that question and map the data for you.

David Lutherby David LutherMajor-Specific, Rankings - 1 year ago

Map-of-private

There is a surfeit of reasons to pursue a degree in English — the intellectual challenges, deluge of job prospects (sort of), training in forming cogent arguments, and the opportunity to learn how to use surfeit, deluge and cogent.

But one of the most important things for college freshmen, if not the most important, is that the program you choose will ultimately prepare you to find a job. In a 2015 study by UCLA, 60 percent of incoming freshmen indicated it’s “very important” that their college’s alumni get good jobs after graduation, from 53 percent in 2013.

And for this reason, many students opt for private schools over public. The perks of an educational pedigree — plus smaller class sizes and greater access to resources — overcome the upfront tuition costs with the promise of a higher quality education

So — which of the 803 private schools with English departments in America offers the greatest return on your investment?

We answered this question like an English major would, considering the overarching narrative while supporting our assertions with citations. And unlike an English major, we did the math too.

We’ve got the full rankings for you at the bottom — but here’s a list of the ten most notable private schools:

  1. Williams College – Massachusetts
  2. Columbia University – New York
  3. Yale University – Connecticut
  4. Middlebury College – Vermont
  5. Brigham Young University – Utah
  6. Kenyon College – Ohio
  7. Hawaii Pacific University – Hawaii
  8. Vanderbilt University – Tennessee
  9. Davidson University – North Carolina
  10. Tulane University – Louisiana

How We Determined the Best Schools for English in Each State

We looked at the following data from the NCES (National Center For Education Statistics) and College Scorecard data from ED.gov to understand which English departments offer the best career opportunities:

  • Career Results
    • Mean Earnings After 6 Years
    • Mean Earnings After 10 Years
    • Ratio of people working to not working after 10 years
  • English Emphasis
    • Percentage of graduating class that are English Majors (Larger the better)
  • School Performance
    • Admissions Rate (More selective the better)
    • Graduation Rate
    • Average Cost Of Attendance (Lower is better)
    • Average amount of debt

After we had this data, we looked at the 803 private institutions of higher learning with English departments. We then ranked each of these schools for each of the criteria above with 1 being the best in any given criteria.

We omitted states that didn’t have enough data for us to work with — New Mexico, Alaska, Wyoming, and Nevada.

Next, we averaged the ranks for each school to create an “English Quality Index”. The school with the best score on the “English Quality Index”, Williams College, earned not only the distinction of being the ‘Best College For English’ in Massachusetts, but overall.

1. Massachusetts

  • College: Williams College
  • City: Williamstown, MA
  • Annual Cost: $59,412
  • Percent English: 10 percent
  • Median Earnings 10 Years: $83,200
  • Median Debt: $11,248

Williams College was more or less founded by a guy named Ephraim Williams in the town of Williamstown, but the school makes up for Eph’s scintillating lake of creativity with its brilliant English program — except for calling themselves the Ephs, but whatever.

Despite being the sixth most expensive school on our list, it’s got the sixth lowest student debt due to its commitment to affordability.

2. Hawaii

  • College: Hawaii Pacific University
  • City: Honolulu, HI
  • Annual Cost: $29,762
  • Percent English: 2 percent
  • Median Earnings 10 Years: $50,100
  • Median Debt: $16,250

There’s not a lot of competition in the world of private school English departments in Hawaii, but this one makes our notables list because, with grants, it probably costs less to go to school here than it does to live in a studio in Honolulu. Seriously though, it’s the second most affordable school on the list that isn’t affiliated with a church.

3. Vermont

  • College: Middlebury College
  • City: Middlebury, VT
  • Annual Cost: $59,200
  • Percent English: 7 percent
  • Median Earnings 10 Years: $81,110
  • Median Debt: $17,777

The problem with the Middlebury College is that it’s in Middlebury, VT — which is in the middle of nowhere, so prepare to bury your head in your books. Yeah that one was pretty terrible — I might write better material if I was in the English Department there, which is phenomenal. But seriously, learn to ski because there’s not much else to do in the area..

4. Utah

  • College: Brigham Young University – Provo
  • City: Provo, UT
  • Annual Cost: $17,174
  • Percent English: 3 percent
  • Median Earnings 10 Years: $66,700
  • Median Debt: $9,260

If you’re looking for a traditional party school, BYU might not be for you. However, it’s one of the most affordable schools on the list and has almost four times as many students as the next biggest school on the list and some genuinely phenomenal athletics programs, it’s a very notable school indeed.

5. Tennessee

  • College: Vanderbilt University
  • City: Nashville, TN
  • Annual Cost: $59,890
  • Percent English: 4.5 percent
  • Median Earnings 10 Years: $77,000
  • Median Debt: $13,000

Vanderbilt University touts a remarkable student–faculty ratio of 8:1. It also has an estimated 3:1 squirrel-student ratio and boasts a 1:5,935 Al Gore alum-student ratio.

6. New York

  • College: Columbia University in the City of New York
  • City: New York, NY
  • Annual Cost: $61,540
  • Percent English: 5.5 percent
  • Median Earnings 10 Years: $99,600
  • Median Debt: $17,125

Despite its location in a quaint college town, there is plenty to do around campus if you look hard. It boasts the highest six-year median salary of all of the schools on our list — also, the Columbia Bartending Agency and School of Mixology is affiliated with the university, which gives English majors an edge on future career competition.

7. Louisiana

  • College: Tulane University of Louisiana
  • City: New Orleans, LA
  • Annual Cost: $58,904
  • Percent English: 4 percent
  • Median Earnings 10 Years: $67,300
  • Median Debt: $20,001

Academics and faculty aside, there’s something to be said for getting a liberal arts degree in a city with such a unique concentration of cultures like New Orleans. It’s also an excellent school to attend if you’d like to watch a football team lose in the Superdome but can’t afford Saints tickets.

8. Ohio

  • College: Kenyon College
  • City: Gambier, OH
  • Annual Cost: $57,910
  • Percent English: 10.5 percent
  • Median Earnings 10 Years: $49,200
  • Median Debt: $16,491

Kenyon is known for it’s focus on writing and boasts the highest percentage of English Majors of all of the private colleges in the country. The student body exercises this talent by posting a copious amount of scathing dining facility reviews online.

9. North Carolina

  • College: Davidson College
  • City: Davidson, NC
  • Annual Cost: $54,930
  • Percent English: 8 percent
  • Median Earnings 10 Years: $73,000
  • Median Debt: $15,750

Davidson is notable for being one of the few small, liberal arts colleges with a high concentration of English majors on this list with a fairly conservative atmosphere — also, they do your laundry for you. Totally worth the tuition.

10. Connecticut

  • College: Yale University
  • City: New Haven, CT
  • Annual Cost: $59,320
  • Percent English: 7 percent
  • Median Earnings 10 Years: $95,300
  • Median Debt: $12,000

This is probably the most storied program on the list, and the strongest for those who wish to pursue a career in academia. It’s focused on close reading and analysis, with creative writing seminars that are competitive to get into — however, these aren’t restricted to English majors.

Detailed List of the Best Private Schools for English Majors in Each State

Rank School Median Earnings After 10 Years Percentage Of English Students Annual Cost Average Debt
1 Williams College — MA 83,200 10.33% 59,412 11,248
2 Columbia — NY 99,600 5.48% 61,540 17,125
3 Yale — CT 95,300 6.7% 59,320 12,000
4 University of Chicago — IL 95,800 4.77% 62,425 17,610
5 Davidson College — NC 73,000 7.86% 54,930 15,750
6 Brown — RI 81,400 4.45% 58,140 15,164
7 Dartmouth — NH 99,700 4.48% 61,398 10,695
8 Swarthmore — PA 67,900 3.93% 58,481 17,718
9 California Institute of Technology — CA 95,000 0.0% 56,382 14,583
10 Brigham Young University — UT 66,700 2.9% 17,174 9,260
11 Vanderbilt University — TN 77,000 4.45% 59,890 13,000
12 Carleton College — MN 56,900 4.72% 58,275 16,644
13 Middlebury — VT 81,100 6.82% 59,200 17,777
14 Johns Hopkins University — MD 84,700 4.22% 58,980 17,500
15 Colby College — ME 64,600 7.97% 57,300 18,500
16 University of Richmond — VA 74,800 3.1% 55,980 18,370
17 Tulane — LA 67,300 4.15% 58,904 20,001
18 Trinity University — TX 67,100 4.45% 46,274 18,500
19 Emory University — GA 73,800 2.62% 58,180 19,000
20 Washington University — MO 80,700 2.39% 62,594 19,500
21 Princeton — NJ 113,000 3.95% 55,430 7,500
22 Grinnell College — IA 53,200 6.52% 53,318 10,022
23 John Brown University — AR 56,400 1.54% 33,326 17,900
24 University of Miami — FL 64,000 1.33% 57,700 18,750
25 Whitman College — WA 51,900 7.73% 54,865 14,600
26 CCSJ 43,300 1.4% 19,530 15,500
27 Hawaii Pacific University — HI 50,100 1.63% 29,762 16,250
28 Oklahoma Wesleyan University — OK 49,800 0.32% 32,241 16,664
29 Reed College — OR 44,600 6.85% 57,701 15,500
30 Kenyon College — OH 49,200 10.47% 57,910 16,491
31 Colorado College — CO 47,300 7.77% 54,200 17,255
32 Wofford College — SC 56,600 6.57% 47,856 19,500
33 Samford University — AL 57,900 2.84% 38,835 20,000
34 Sterling College — KS 35,200 4.38% 30,722 14,500
35 Wheeling Jesuit — WV 48,000 4.41% 34,213 16,625
36 Brescia University — KY 40,500 1.11% 27,219 12,146
37 Millsaps College — MS 51,500 3.66% 44,435 21,750
38 Maranatha Baptist University — WI 35,500 3.95% 23,879 12,000
39 Goldey-Beacom College — DE 48,700 1.63% 32,255 16,000
40 Siena Heights University — MI 40,700 1.55% 31,980 15,328
41 Rocky Mountain College — MT 47,000 2.97% 32,987 16,625
42 Union College — NE 42,200 1.48% 30,383 16,937
43 Brigham Young University — ID 45,600 3.42% 10,438 7,725
44 University of Jamestown — ND 43,400 0.58% 27,712 17,000
45 Augustana College — SD 47,700 4.43% 36,828 25,249
46 Prescott College — AZ 35,800 3.27% 40,206 19,874

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