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STEM College Spotlight Series: Liberal Arts Colleges (Part 2)

To all those pre-college hopefuls looking for some more college options to explore, here is the second half of this liberal arts college exclusive list for aspiring STEM majors.

To all thE pre-college hopefuls looking for more college options to explore, here is the second half of tHE liberal arts college exclusive list for aspiring STEM majors. If you haven’t read the first half, you should definitely check it out here. Hopefully, you can find some place to start in your search (procrastinators and early birds alike) and perhaps a place to call home for the next four years.


Image from Flickr Creative Commons

Frank W. Olin College of Engineering 

Location: Needham, Massachusetts

Olin College is a private undergraduate engineering college well-known for its focus in project-based curriculum and extremely small undergraduate size (350 undergraduate students). Despite its small size and lack of history, Olin College is a lead producer of engineer-entrepreneurs that has made an impact in industry/research and advanced engineering education in the United States.


  • Unique Undergraduate Curriculum: Unlike most colleges, Olin undergraduates take engineering courses right away and are involved with hands-on projects throughout the curriculum. Students still complete an Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences requirement and are required to take an introductory entrepreneurship course in their first year (4). You won’t find this at a typical research university.
  • Capstone Projects – SCOPE and ADE: Similar to Harvey Mudd’s Clinic Program, both Senior Capstone Program in Engineering (SCOPE) and Affordability, Design, and Entrepreneurship (ADE) are university-industry collaborations where student teams conduct projects for companies or complete sponsored institution or industrial projects during senior year. Some of their clients include Fortune 500 corporations and government research laboratories (4).
  • Emphasis on “External Impact” Work: Olin Faculty members are typically known to engage in meaningful work in fields like research, entrepreneurship, and consulting that usually involve groups of undergraduate students. You can read about some of their current projects here. Olin research is also very well-funded by organizations like the NSF and the Mellon Foundation and internal grants (4).
Image from Flickr Creative Commons

Reed College

Location: Portland, Oregon

Reed College is a private liberal arts college renowned for its mandatory freshman humanities program and high Ph.D production among its graduates. Over the years, Reed has been among the top 5 science and math Ph.D producers in the nation and has produced hundreds of Fulbright Scholars, 67 Watson Fellows, and 32 Rhodes Scholars.


  • Humanities 110: Arguably the heart of Reed’s curriculum and intellectual philosophy, all students are required to take an intro to humanities course during their freshman year. The idea is that students gain the skills and awareness of how disciplines interact as the course is a foundation for higher education. Reed’s humanities-centered curriculum also influenced the development of the University of Chicago’s own Core Curriculum as we know it today (5). Their curriculum  had quite a bit of history which you can read about here.
  • Special Programs: For those interested in forestry or environmental sciences, Reed offers a BA/MA program partnership with Duke where you can earn your BA at Reed and MA at Duke (Master’s in Forestry or Environmental Management.) Reed also partners with CalTech, Columbia, and Rensselaer for those who also want engineering degrees. Reed also offers pre-medical and pre-veterinary preparation (5).
  • Reed Research Reactor: Established in 1968, Reed is the only liberal arts college to own a nuclear reactor and perhaps the only one operated primarily by undergraduates. The facility is accessible to anyone regardless of major and is used for instruction and experimentation (5). You can read all about the reactor here.
Image from Flickr Creative Commons

Bucknell University

Location: Lewisville, Pennsylvania

Bucknell University is a private liberal arts college, consisting of the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Management, and College of Engineering. Over the years, Bucknell has expanded its research opportunities and its engineering outreach to underserved communities.


  • Tons of Research Opportunities: Given its small size and abundance in research programs, there are plenty opportunities to get involved. Programs offered include STEM Scholars, the Emerging Scholars Summer Research Program, Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholars, and Bucknell Geisinger Research Initiative to name a few (1).
  • Special Engineering Programs: From inclusive programs like the Engineering Success Alliance to internship programs like the ECLIPSE Program, Bucknell makes sure that their engineering students have plenty of resources to be successful in their fields. Other programs include KEEN and the Grand Challenges Scholars Program (1).
  • STEM Education Outreach: Through Project Lead the Way, Bucknell is one of the leaders of providing for K-12 STEM Education. Additionally, they also host a Summer Engineering Camp for 7th – 11th graders every year and made it more accessible to underrepresented communities (1).
Image from Flickr Creative Commons

Smith College

Location: Northampton, Massachusetts

Smith College is a private, independent women’s college, and is a member of the Five College Consortium and the Seven Sisters, a group of historically women’s colleges in the Northeast. Smith is well-known for producing women leaders, including Kenya’s first physician and founder of Center for Advancing Innovation.


  • Several STEM Outreach Opportunities: Students have abundant opportunities to be involved in STEM education programs within their community through research or service. Programs include The Science Center AIMES Scholar Program, STEM Ambassadors, and Student Scientists Outreach Program. Smith also offers a pre-college Summer Science and Engineering Program for high school girls to be involved in STEM (2).
  • Five College Consortium: Similar to the Claremont Consortium, students can cross-register at Amherst, Mount Holyoke, UMass Amherst, and Hampshire and participate in their school events. Students can also complete certificate programs not offered at Smith through the consortium such as Statistics and Sustainability Studies (2).
  • Picker Engineering Program: Smith made history with the creation of the first all-women’s accredited engineering program. Students can earn a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in Engineering depending on their career goals (2). With plenty of internship opportunities and engineering-oriented student organizations, Smith plays a vital role in providing for the women minority in engineering.
Image from Flickr Creative Commons

Wesleyan University

Location: Middletown, Connecticut

Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college that also grants research masters’ degrees and Ph.D’s in several STEM disciplines. Wesleyan’s faculty are among leaders of their respective fields, including nobel prize winners Gary Yohe and Max Tishler.


  • BA/MA Programs: Not many liberal arts colleges offer BA/MA programs, but Wesleyan offers BA/MA programs in the natural sciences, mathematics, and psychology for those interested in extensive research. Wesleyan also offers Ph.D programs in Biology, Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and Computer Science (3).
  • College of Integrative Sciences (CIS): The College of Integrative Sciences is the heart of Wesleyan’s interdisciplinary research. Students who are accepted to this college’s programs are expected to gain deep research experience and conduct interdisciplinary research projects with faculty mentors. ‘Linked majors’ are designed to increase specialization in students’ works and provide depth into their course of study. Other programs offered include the Beckmann Scholars program and the Integrated Design, Engineering, and Applied Sciences (IDEAS) minor (3).


  1. “Bucknell University: Home.” Summer 2014 || Bucknell Magazine | Bucknell University, 2018, Pages Used: Special Engineering Programs and Office of Undergraduate Fellowships and Research
  2. “Empower the Whole You (Smith College: Home).” Smith College, 29 June 1970, Pages Used: STEM Outreach and Picker Engineering Program
  3. “Events (Wesleyan: Home).” Rosa Parks and The Montgomery Bus Boycott, MLK – Wesleyan University, 2018, Pages Used: Grad Degree Programs (BA/MA Programs and Ph.D) and College of Integrative Sciences
  4. “Olin College of Engineering: Home.” Olin College, 25 June 2018, Pages Used: Research and Impact Sample Projects, Curriculum, SENIOR CAPSTONE PROGRAM IN ENGINEERING (SCOPE), Engineering Capstone, and Research at Olin
  5. Reed College. “Reed College: Home.” Reed College, 2018, Pages Used; Facts about Reed (Doctoral Productivity and Awards), How the Humanities Saved Reed, and Special Programs, Reed Research Reactor

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