U.S. News & World Report:

  • One of the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the U.S.
  • #21 Most Innovative liberal arts college in the U.S.
  • #9 Best Value College—a measure of academic quality and affordability
  • #25 in Top Performers in Social Mobility
  • #60 in Best Undergraduate Teaching

Princeton Review:

COA ranks among the top colleges in the country on the Princeton Review’s lists including:

  • Green Colleges: #1
  • LGBTQ-Friendly: #8
  • Best Campus Food: #11
  • Professors Get High Marks: #12
  • Students Study the Most: #12
  • Most Active Student Government: #14

Green Colleges:

COA has been repeatedly recognized for our college-wide commitment to ecological practices.

  • Sierra Club’s Cool Schools: #1 (greenest college in America) in 2016, 2017
  • The Princeton Review’s Top 50 Green Colleges: #1 in 2016, 2017, 2018
  • The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE): #5 top performing sustainable baccalaureate institution in 2019

Ashoka U Changemaker Campus:

COA has been a Changemaker Campus since 2008, recognized through a rigorous, global selection process with this leading designation for social innovation in higher education.  

Washington Monthly:

  • Top liberal arts colleges: #20—this ranking is based largely on colleges’ contributions to the public good.

MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient:

COA is one of six colleges selected to receive a “genius” grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which cited our innovative, mission-driven approach to liberal arts education.


“At this tiny Bar Harbor school, students ‘don’t just take classes’: they immerse themselves in experiences and in ‘an intimate, friendly community’ of do-ers and critical thinkers.… This unique educational model helps students ‘merge [their] talents/interests in a meaningful and applicable way,’ and allows for graduate-level research and real-world work experience at the undergraduate level…. Self-motivated learning is everything here, and College of the Atlantic is for ‘idealists with elbow grease.’”

— Princeton Review’s The Best 381 Colleges 2017

The COA research station lighthouse on Great Duck Island.The COA research station lighthouse on Great Duck Island. 

Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award recipient:  

NAFSA: Association of International Educators honored COA for our innovative international initiatives. 

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