These Are The 10 Best Small Colleges In Alabama

by Chris Kolmar
Rankings - 3 years ago

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You know there are a ton of great reasons to go to a small college — the opportunity to work with a smaller number of people, a chance to get a great education while remaining close to home, and of course, cost. After all, who wants to rack up huge student loans to get a degree that’s just about as valuable as one from a large institution?

But what small college in Alabama is the best of all?

We at Zippia decided to take a look at the data on the 11 institutions of higher learning in the Heart Of Dixie to determine which programs offer the best all around experience for students. After analyzing the numbers, we sorted the schools by enrollment, limiting our report to institutions with under 2,000 students.

After the dust settled, we’re left with this set of the top small colleges or universities in Alabama:

  1. Spring Hill College
  2. Concordia College Alabama
  3. Huntingdon College
  4. Birmingham Southern College
  5. Oakwood University
  6. University of West Alabama
  7. University of Mobile
  8. Judson College
  9. Stillman College
  10. Heritage Christian University

If you go to one of these schools, chances are, you’re not surprised. After all, you know how great you have it.

But for the rest of you — keep reading and we’ll get to just why these schools have some of the best experiences Alabama has to offer.

For more AL reading, check out:

How We Determined The Best Small Colleges In Alabama

At its core, economics is the study of choices made under constraints. When it came to identifying the best small schools we wanted to approach the ranking like an economics major would — that is, by looking at data on how individual schools performed and comparing them to one another.

What better way to optimize your choice?

So with that mind, we looked at the following data from the NCES (National Center For Education Statistics) and College Scorecard data from to understand what small schools 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
  • School Performance
    • Admissions Rate (More selective the better)
    • Graduation Rate
    • Average Cost Of Attendance (Lower is better)
    • Average amount of debt

It’s hard to argue with a selective school that produces strong earning potential for your career.

After we had this data, we looked at the 11 institutions of higher learning in Alabama which had populations under 2,000 students. We then ranked each of these schools from 1 to 11 for each of the criteria above with 1 being the best in any given criteria.

Next, we averaged the ranks for each school to create an “Quality Index”. The school with the best score on the “Quality Index”, Spring Hill College, earned the distinction of being the ‘Best Small College’ in Alabama.

Any ties went to the larger school.

1. Spring Hill College

Spring Hill College, Alabama
Enrollment: 1,227

This small institution in Mobile, AL is the best small college in the state, when you look at the unbiased data.

Spring Hill College graduates earn the highest salaries in the state for all small colleges — even a decade after graduation. Its 51% admission rate means the college is exclusive (a good sign), and the cost is the 10th lowest, meaning you get a big bang for your buck.

2. Concordia College Alabama

Concordia College Alabama, Alabama
Enrollment: 532

Located in Selma, Concordia College Alabama is one of many private colleges to make this list. What makes it so great here?

For starters, is the 2nd lowest cost small college in the state. The admission rate is very low, and its graduation rate is the 9th highest in the state of all small colleges we measured.

3. Huntingdon College

Huntingdon College, Alabama
Enrollment: 657

Most people in the state know Huntingdon College as being a top-notch program. But this small, private college in Montgomery isn’t just a great place for current students, but former students too.

Huntingdon College’s graduation rate the 4th highest in Alabama, which is certainly something to brag about. So is an admission rate of 58%, also one of the best in the state.

4. Birmingham Southern College

Birmingham Southern College, Alabama
Enrollment: 1,395

Birmingham Southern College in Birmingham gets high marks for a low admission rate and a high graduation rate. Additionally, for those lucky enough to get in, this is the 11th lowest cost place to learn in the state.

5. Oakwood University

Oakwood University, Alabama
Enrollment: 1,767

If you want up-close personal attention at a private institution, then it’d be hard to beat Oakwood University, located in Huntsville.

Besides high marks in several categories, what really stands out is the annual salaries that its graduates command.

6. University Of West Alabama

University Of West Alabama, Alabama
Enrollment: 1,595

This public college in Livingston gets high marks for cost (it’s the 3rd lowest least expensive small college in AL), and for post-graduation earnings, where former students command the 6th highest incomes in the state.

7. University Of Mobile

University Of Mobile, Alabama
Enrollment: 1,764

Only 58% of the young minds who apply to University of Mobile are accepted. In addition, graduates earn the 3rd highest salaries.

University of Mobile also has the 7th highest graduation rate of all small colleges in Alabama.

8. Judson College

Judson College, Alabama
Enrollment: 321

Not only is Judson College in one of the prettiest parts of Alabama, its students get the benefit of several leading categories. For instance, if you’re lucky enough to be accepted here, you’ll have the 6th lowest debt of all small college graduates in the state.

And the whole reason you go to college is to earn the big bucks, right? Judson College grads command the 9th highest salaries in the state.

9. Stillman College

Stillman College, Alabama
Enrollment: 1,530

It’s hard to do better than little Stillman College, located in Tuscaloosa. Students will appreciate the high graduation rate, lower-than-average costs and high salaries that graduates earn.

10. Heritage Christian University

Heritage Christian University, Alabama
Enrollment: 95

Heritage Christian University is one of the private schools to make this list.This is the 4th least expensive small college at which to learn in the state.

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