Washington Monthly names Berea College No. 2 Best Liberal Arts College, No. 1 in Social Mobility

Washington Monthly names Berea College No. 2 Best Liberal Arts College, No. 1 in Social Mobility

September 1, 2023

BEREA, Ky. – Washington Monthly magazine has ranked Berea College the No. 2 liberal arts college in the nation in its 2023 College Guide and Rankings, up three spots from the 2022 rankings. 

Berea College retained its ranking as the No. 1 Best Bang for the Buck College in the South in this year’s guide. Additional rankings include No. 1 in Pell Grant performance, No. 1 in social mobility and No. 22 in service. 

“Now more than ever, we need a better set of benchmarks for what ‘excellence’ is in higher education, ones that measure what colleges do for their country, instead of for themselves,” Washington Monthly editors say of their rankings. “Washington Monthly’s college rankings try to do just that, by rating institutions on their commitment to three goals: social mobility, public service and research. Rather than laud the universities that mostly cater to the sons and daughters of the wealthy, we reward those that welcome students from everyday and low-income backgrounds and help them to graduate on time, with good jobs and low debt.”

Washington Monthly went on to call Berea College “the best in the nation at enrolling low-income students, and among the best at getting them to the podium on Commencement Day – at exceptionally low cost.”

“Berea College is proud not only of our mission to educate those who may not otherwise be able to afford to go to college, but also of our commitment to providing our students a blueprint for life after college,” said Berea College President Dr. Cheryl Nixon, who began her tenure as the College’s 10th president and first female president on July 1. “Berea College strives to offer a high-quality liberal arts education that engages students as they pursue their goals, and we do so in a way that leaves our students with zero or little debt after graduation. We are proud of our mission and our model, and we’re honored to be recognized for our work.”

Berea’s mission is to provide students from limited financial resources with a high-quality liberal arts education. At Berea, 96 percent of students receive federal Pell Grants, and the annual household income of students’ families is about $32,000. Nationally, graduation rates for students in that demographic are only in the mid-teens. By contrast, about two-thirds of Berea students graduate on time, with many going on to earn advanced degrees.

The Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings can be found online at:

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, where students work at least 10 hours a week to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.