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The "Little Ivies" are small, highly academically-competitive liberal arts colleges located in the Northeastern United States

The Little Ivies are an unofficial group of small, academically competitive private liberal arts colleges in the Northeastern United States.[nb 1] The term is occasionally used to describe the indefinite grouping of private liberal arts colleges. Certain historically black colleges, Jesuit universities, Southern universities and public universities have similarly adopted unofficial groupings as "ivies".

According to Bloomberg, the Little Ivies are also known for their large financial endowments, both absolutely and relative to their size.[11] The term is generally and most associated with the colleges of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), with select schools from the Liberty League, Patriot League and the Centennial Conference.


Relationship to NESCACEdit

Among the Little Ivies are the "Little Three", a term used by Amherst College, Wesleyan University and Williams College, and "Maine Big Three", a term used by Colby College, Bates College and Bowdoin College. The term is inspired by the "Big Three" Ivy League athletic rivalry between Harvard, Princeton, and Yale[12][13] despite there being no academic, athletic or historical relationship between the liberal arts colleges and the Ivy League universities.

Amherst College, Wesleyan University and Williams College joined Bowdoin College to found the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) in 1971 along with Bates College, Colby College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Tufts University, Trinity College and Union College.[14] Union withdrew in 1977 and was replaced by Connecticut College in 1982.[15]

Contemporary useEdit

A 2016 article by Bloomberg Businessweek lists the members of the Little Ivies as:[11]

The Little Ivies are also sub-grouped by the following consortia:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The Little Ivies as a grouping of academically selective liberal arts colleges in the United States.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]


  1. ^ McDonald, Michael (December 22, 2016). "Little Good News for the Little Ivies". Bloomberg. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  2. ^ Winey, Madison (April 23, 2012). "The Not-So-Little Ivies". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  3. ^ Xinhua (November 6, 2011). "Elite high school graduates look abroad". Archived from the original on April 17, 2018. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  4. ^ Staff, Forbes (August 6, 2013). "Little Ivies, or the small renowned liberal arts schools". Forbes. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  5. ^ Matson, Zachary (December 28, 2016). "College investments sink". The Daily Gazette. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  6. ^ Newsmax (November 11, 2010). "5 Best Colleges in Connecticut". Newsmax. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  7. ^ Massey, Alana (June 20, 2014). "Higher Ed Pays a High Price for Mediocrity". The Baffler. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  8. ^ Seltzer, Rick (December 1, 2016). "Trinity College in Connecticut sells building and changes enrollment strategy, the socially elite Little Ivies". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  9. ^ J.P., Lawrence (October 22, 2014). "Veterans in the Ivory Tower". Pacific Standard. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  10. ^ Peck, Don (November 2003). "The Selectivity Illusion". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  11. ^ a b McDonald, Michael (December 22, 2016). "The Little Ivies' Endowments Took a Big Hit This Year". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  12. ^ One version of the facts: my life in ... - Henry Edmison Duckworth - Google Books. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  13. ^ a b Calhoun, Charles (1993). A Small College in Maine. Hubbard Hall, Bowdoin College: Bowdoin College. p. 163.: Bowdoin College. pp. 12, 19. ...Of the three top schools in Maine, the CBB drew the most notation to what was informally characterized as a smaller Ivy League, one that provided an Ivy League education with a smaller student body
  14. ^ "NESCAC". NESCAC. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  15. ^ Bonner, Thomas (May 15, 2008). "Thomas Neville Bonner". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  16. ^ Duckworth, Henry. One version of the facts: my life in the ivory tower. University of Manitoba Press. p. 94. ISBN 0-88755-670-1.
  17. ^ United States Congress, Senate, Committee on Finance (1951): Revenue Act of 1951. p. 1768. Material by Stuart Hedden, president of Wesleyan University Press, inserted into the record: "Popularly known, together with Williams and Amherst, as one of the Little Three colleges of New England, [Wesleyan] has for nearly a century and a quarter served the public welfare by maintaining with traditional integrity the highest academic standards." Published by the U.S. Government Printing Office, 1951.
  18. ^ Larson, Timothy (2005). "Faith by Their Works: The Progressive Tradition at Bates College from 1855 to 1877,". Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine: Bates College Publishing. pp. Multi–source.