Carleton College

2014 Quick Stats
1 N. College Street

Northfield, MN 55057

Phone: (507) 222-4000
2013-2014 Tuition
tuition and fees
male /
Jan. 15
application deadline

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U.S. News Rankings

Ranking score and category
U.S. News rank Category Name
#7 Overall Score: 91 out of 100. National Liberal Arts Colleges

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Carleton College is a private institution that was founded in 1866. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,055, its setting is rural, and the campus size is 955 acres. It utilizes a trimester-based academic calendar. Carleton College's ranking in the 2014 edition of Best Colleges is National Liberal Arts Colleges, 7. Its tuition and fees are $46,167 (2013-14).

Carleton College is located in the historic river town of Northfield, Minn. The Carleton Knights have 19 varsity athletic teams competing in the NCAA Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Carleton offers more than 170 student organizations, many with creative names, including the Carleton Juggling F.I.S.H., the One Knight Stands cabaret troupe and the Knightingales a cappella group, to name a few. Intramural sports like quidditch, broomball, dodgeball and sand volleyball are also popular among students. All freshmen are required to live on campus, and about 90 percent of students choose to remain on campus in one of the residence halls, shared interest houses or campus townhouses.

Carleton College offers close to 40 undergraduate majors. The college has many unique traditions, including stealing and periodically displaying a plaster bust of the German poet Friedrich Schiller that dates back to the 1950s. A newer tradition is the "Silent Dance Party" during study days prior to finals when students don headphones and dance together in the library. The Goodsell Observatory on Carleton’s campus houses three historic telescopes as well as several modern telescopes available for classes and open houses. Notable alumni include Anthony Downs, author of "An Economic Theory of Democracy," and former Supreme Court Justice Pierce Butler.

School mission and unique qualities (as provided by the school):

Carleton College is a private liberal arts college located in the historic river town of Northfield, Minn., 40 miles south of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Best known for its academic excellence and welcoming campus community, Carleton offers 33 majors and 15 concentrations in the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Carleton's student body is notoriously difficult to categorize, but one word to describe it might be curious. "Carls" are an intellectually insatiable group that approach learning with enthusiasm, energy, and a uniquely Carleton brand of playfulness. Broad-ranging interests are common, and friendships seem to cross all traditional boundaries. As students and alumni will tell you, there's just something different about Carleton. Maybe it's the size (about 2,000 students). Or maybe it's the round-the-clock proximity of so many creative minds (90 percent of students live on campus). Whatever the reason, Carleton is a place where students are likelier to cooperate than compete. The College supports more than 100 student organizations, and features numerous a capella vocal groups, comedy troupes, dance groups and drama groups. The College also sponsors 20 varsity sports, plus a vast club and intramural sports scene with nearly 90 percent of the student body partaking at a wide spectrum of ability levels. Carleton's faculty members are highly respected scholars, researchers, and practitioners in their fields. But, above all, their first priority is teaching. A student-faculty ratio of 9 to 1 ensures that Carleton students have plenty of opportunity for interaction with their professors. Carleton students come from 50 states and 37 other countries. Multicultural students account for 22 percent of Carleton's 2,000 students. More than half of all students receive need-based financial aid and about 80 percent hold jobs on campus. Carleton ranks second among all undergraduate colleges in the number of its students awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Fellowships for graduate study. The College enrolls more National Merit Scholars than any other small liberal arts college in the country, and has had 18 Rhodes Scholars. The Center for Community and Civic Engagement encourages students to combine traditional volunteer service with scholarly engagement in the community. Opportunities abound for internships, externships, summer research with faculty, and career exploration with alumni. More than 70 percent of the student population participates in off-campus studies. Carleton brings nationally and internationally distinguished guests to campus as visiting faculty and for weekly convocations, which are free and open to the public. Guests have included journalist and presidential adviser David Gergen; co-founder of Politico and Carleton trustee John Harris; Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton; and former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad. Carleton features the 880-acre Cowling Arboretum (known as "the Arb") that provides a network of walking, running, and cross-country skiing trails adjacent to the Cannon River and east of the campus. The Arb was named among the top 10 places to run in the country by Runner's World magazine. The College also has one of the largest undergraduate libraries in the United States, as well as a science complex that consists of a Center for Mathematics and Computing, and buildings for physics and psychology, biology, and chemistry and geology. Opened in 2011, the Weitz Center for Creativity is a working lab for creativity where the arts intersect with all disciplines. An 80,000 square-foot Recreation Center opened in 2000, giving Carls a state-of-the-art athletics and recreation facility. Carleton graduates can be found in the forefront of nearly every professional field, and within ten years of graduating, 75-80 percent of alumni go on to top graduate and professional schools across the country.

General Information

School type private, coed college
Year founded 1866
Religious affiliation N/A
Academic calendar trimester
Setting rural
2012 Endowment $645,654,187


When applying to Carleton College, it's important to note the application deadline is January 15, and the early decision deadline is November 15. Scores for either the ACT or SAT test are due February 1. The application fee at Carleton College is $30. It is most selective, with an acceptance rate of 25.6 percent.

For more information about the tests, essays, interviews, and admissions process, visit the Applying to College knowledge center.

Selectivity most selective
Fall 2012 acceptance rate 25.6%
Application deadline January 15
SAT/ACT scores must be received by February 1

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Academic Life

The student-faculty ratio at Carleton College is 9:1, and the school has 64.3 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students. The most popular majors at Carleton College include: Social Sciences; Physical Sciences; Visual and Performing Arts; Psychology; and English Language and Literature/Letters. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 97.3 percent.

Class sizes
Class sizes
Student-faculty ratio 9:1
4-year graduation rate 91%
Five most popular majors for 2012 graduates
Social Sciences 19%
Physical Sciences 12%
Visual and Performing Arts 12%
Psychology 11%
English Language and Literature/Letters 6%

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Student Life

Carleton College has a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,055, with a gender distribution of 47 percent male students and 53 percent female students. At this school, 94 percent of the students live in college-owned, -operated, or -affiliated housing and 6 percent of students live off campus. Carleton College is part of the NCAA III athletic conference.

Total enrollment 2,055
Student gender distribution
Student gender distribution
Undergraduate men who are members of a fraternity
Undergraduate men who are members of a fraternity
Undergraduate women who are members of a sorority
Undergraduate women who are members of a sorority
Collegiate athletic association NCAA III

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Campus Info & Services

Carleton College offers a number of student services including nonremedial tutoring, women's center, placement service, health service, and health insurance. Carleton College also offers campus safety and security services like 24-hour foot and vehicle patrols, late night transport/escort service, 24-hour emergency telephones, lighted pathways/sidewalks, student patrols, and controlled dormitory access (key, security card, etc). Of the students at Carleton College, 10 percent have cars on campus. Alcohol is permitted for students of legal age at Carleton College.

Students who have cars on campus 10%
Health insurance offered Yes

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Paying for School

At Carleton College, 55.7 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $31,320.

Paying for college doesn't have to be difficult or devastating. Go to the Paying for College knowledge center to get advice on raising cash and reducing costs.

Tuition and fees $46,167 (2013-14)
Room and board $11,982 (2013-14)
Financial aid statistics
Financial aid statistics

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* Overview details based on 2012 data

College Rankings

Best Liberal Arts Colleges - Narrow your search with the U.S. News rankings of Liberal Arts Colleges, schools that emphasize undergrad liberal arts education.

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