These Are The 10 Best Small Colleges In Indiana

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 Indiana is the best of all?

We at Zippia decided to take a look at the data on the 21 institutions of higher learning in the Hoosier State 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 Indiana:

  1. Calumet College of Saint Joseph
  2. Goshen College
  3. Oakland City University
  4. Bethel College-Indiana
  5. Trine University-Regional/Non-Traditional Campuses
  6. Wabash College
  7. Saint Mary’s College
  8. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
  9. Marian University
  10. Taylor 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 Indiana has to offer.

For more IN reading, check out:

How We Determined The Best Small Colleges In Indiana

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 21 institutions of higher learning in Indiana which had populations under 2,000 students. We then ranked each of these schools from 1 to 21 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”, Calumet College of Saint Joseph, earned the distinction of being the ‘Best Small College’ in Indiana.

Any ties went to the larger school.

1. Calumet College Of Saint Joseph

Calumet College Of Saint Joseph, Indiana
Enrollment: 975

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

Calumet College of Saint Joseph graduates earn the 5th highest salaries in the state for all small colleges — even a decade after graduation. Its 33% admission rate means the college is exclusive (a good sign), and the cost is the lowest, meaning you get a big bang for your buck.

2. Goshen College

Goshen College, Indiana
Enrollment: 1,041

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

For starters, is the 10th least expensive small college in the state. The admission rate is also very low, and its graduation rate is the 4th highest in the state of all small colleges we measured.

3. Oakland City University

Oakland City University, Indiana
Enrollment: 1,125

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

Oakland City University’s admission rate of 55% is the 3rd highest in Indiana, which is certainly something to brag about. So is an the amount of debt their students leave with, which ranks 1st in the state.

4. Bethel College-Indiana

Bethel College-Indiana, Indiana
Enrollment: 1,534

Bethel College-Indiana in Mishawaka gets high marks for a low admission rate and a high graduation rate. Additionally, for those lucky enough to get in, this is the 5th least expensive place to learn in the state.

5. Trine University-Regional/Non-Traditional Campuses

Trine University-Regional/Non-Traditional Campuses, Indiana
Enrollment: 96

If you want up-close personal attention at a private institution, than it’d be hard to beat Trine University-Regional/Non-Traditional Campuses, located in Fort Wayne.

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

6. Wabash College

Wabash College, Indiana
Enrollment: 858

This private college in Crawfordsville gets high marks for their graduation rate (it’s the 3rd best in IN), and for post-graduation earnings, where former students command the 2nd highest incomes in the state.

7. Saint Mary’s College

Saint Mary
Enrollment: 1,449

Saint Mary’s College has the best graduation rate in the state, which is a sign of greatness. After all, when you turn so many students away, that means there’s high demand. In addition, graduates earn the 4th highest salaries.

Saint Mary’s College also has the highest graduation rate of all small colleges in Indiana.

This private school is located in Notre Dame.

8. Rose-Hulman Institute Of Technology

Rose-Hulman Institute Of Technology, Indiana
Enrollment: 1,581

Not only is Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in one of the prettiest parts of Indiana, its students get the benefit of several leading categories. For instance, if you’re lucky enough to be accepted here, you’ll have a great shot at graduating (5th highest rate in the state).

And the whole reason you go to college is to earn the big bucks, right? Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology grads command the highest salaries in the state.

9. Marian University

Marian University, Indiana
Enrollment: 1,271

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

10. Taylor University

Taylor University, Indiana
Enrollment: 1,843

Taylor University is one of the private schools to make this list. It boasts the 2nd best graduation rate in the state, and graduates command the 4th highest salaries.

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