Timothy Peck 10 min read Applying to College, College Lists

22 Top Colleges Without Greek Life

Some high school students can’t wait to join Greek life in college, as they feel that it’s an essential part of the college experience. Other students hope to avoid Greek life altogether, as they feel that fraternities and sororities create a divide on campus. 

 

Keep reading to learn some of the pros and cons of Greek life, and to get a closer look at 22 of the top schools without Greek life. The list will be broken down by research universities, liberal arts colleges, and women’s liberal arts colleges. It’s more common for liberal arts colleges to be without Greek life, so expect those lists to be longer.

 

Pros of Greek Life 

 

If you like being part of a close-knit group, and if you love socializing, Greek life might be a great fit. There’s seemingly always something happening in Greek life; plan on receiving lots of invitations to events and parties. Members of fraternities and sororities are introduced to a lot of people through their groups. This is not only helpful for navigating college, but can also pay dividends even after school, as they provide access to large alumni networks. Joining a frat or sorority will also likely mean you have the opportunity to live in your pledged house in your junior or senior year—and being surrounded by your brothers or sisters can be super fun, as well as supportive.  

 

Cons of Greek Life

 

Pledging is a deterrent to many students’ interest in Greek life, and can also be a distraction for students who are getting accustomed to college life. Stereotypes are also common within Greek life, and your affiliation with a particular fraternity or sorority might lead to people making judgements about you. Lastly, Greek life can be socially limiting, as it is common for students to only associate with members of other Greek organizations. In many cases, it’s even more restrictive, as members of some fraternities and sororities will only socialize with other select Greek organizations. 

 

Still wondering if Greek life is important when choosing a college? If so, check out our blog Should Greek Life Matter When Choosing a College?

 

For students who don’t wish to participate in Greek life, they might want to consider schools without fraternities and sororities altogether, as that would eliminate any Greek life/non-Greek life divide. Here are 22 top colleges without Greek life.

 

Research Universities Without Greek Life

 

1. Boston College

Location: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Enrollment: 9,377

U.S. News Ranking: #37

Acceptance rate: 28%

 

Founded by the Jesuits in 1863, Boston College (BC) still maintains its religious affiliation with the Catholic Church today—over 150 years later. In the centuries-old tradition of fostering links between Jesuit scholars across the globe, BC promotes global engagement through connecting with international students, recruiting faculty with international backgrounds, and developing global programs. BC participates in nearly 30 NCAA Division I varsity sports, and has one of the country’s highest graduation rates for student athletes. 

 

2. Fordham University

Location: New York, New York

Enrollment: 9,645

U.S. News Ranking: #74

Acceptance rate: 46%

 

With campuses scattered around New York City, Fordham students live and learn in one of the world’s great cities—and the epicenter of everything from international business to entertainment. A Jesuit university, Fordham recognizes the dignity and uniqueness of each person and bases its education on close collaboration between students, faculty, and staff. A point of pride for the university is that it has been home to 185 Fulbright Scholars.

 

3. Rice University

Location: Houston, Texas

Enrollment: 3,992

U.S. News Ranking: #17

Acceptance rate: 11%

 

Located in the heart of the nation’s fourth-largest city, Rice University offers an active environment for students both on and off campus. Combining the advantages of a liberal arts college with the resources and facilities of a world-class research university, Rice students are afforded the opportunity to explore a wide range of academic interests. Rice has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best values in higher ed. The university does not consider an applicant’s financial situation when deciding admission and meets 100% of all admitted students’ demonstrated financial need. 

 

4. University of Notre Dame

Location: Notre Dame, Indiana 

Enrollment: 8,617

U.S. News Ranking: #15

Acceptance Rate: 18%

 

As a college without Greek life, Notre Dame’s 30 single-sex residence halls are at the center of the school’s social life. A Catholic University, faith plays an important role in the lives of its students, as religious thought intersects with the arts, sciences, and other areas of academics and creativity. Studying abroad also plays a large role in the academic careers of Notre Dame students—over half of the university’s students study abroad. 

 

5. University of Portland

Location: Portland, Oregon

Enrollment: 3,788

U.S. News Ranking: #2 

Acceptance Rate: 75%

 

The University of Portland (affectionately known as UP) is located just seven miles from Portland’s bustling downtown, and offers a variety of urban opportunities while also providing easy access to outdoor destinations such as the Oregon coast, Mount Hood, and the Columbia River Gorge. A Catholic University, the school strives to create forward-thinking future leaders by teaching students to think critically, communicate effectively, and respond ethically. It also creates global citizens; more than 30% of UP’s students participate in study abroad programs.  

 

Liberal Arts Colleges Without Greek Life

 

6. Amherst College

Location: Amherst, Massachusetts

Enrollment: 1,855

U.S. News Ranking: #2 

Acceptance Rate: 13%

 

Noted for its academics, Amherst College is a member of the Five College Consortium—along with Smith, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, and UMass Amherst—that allows students to take courses at any of these colleges. Amherst also has a reputation for the affordability of its education; it is one of the few no-loan, need-blind colleges that promises to meet 100% of accepted students’ demonstrated financial need.

 

7. Bates College

Location: Lewiston, Maine

Enrollment: 1,832

U.S. News Ranking: #21 

Acceptance Rate: 18%

 

The first coeducational college in New England, Bates College has a long history of inclusivity and believes in the learning potential in our differences—this is one of the reasons why you won’t find any fraternities or sororities on its campus. Learning from other people and cultures is also why roughly two-thirds of Bates students study abroad. Bates uses a unique 4-4-1 academic calendar that features a five-week spring term, where students can hone in on a single subject or participate in an off-campus program. 

 

8. Bowdoin College

Location: Brunswick, Maine

Enrollment: 1,828

U.S. News Ranking: #6

Acceptance Rate: 10%

 

Bowdoin has not always been a college without Greek life—it abolished fraternities in 1997. In lieu of Greek life, Bowdoin now employs a system of college-owned social houses to encourage students to live together, eat together, and learn from one another. Bowdoin is also home to numerous societies such as the Peucinian Society (one of the oldest literary and intellectual societies in the country) and an outing club that offers 100 excursions a year. Bowdoin is a need-blind school and has replaced loans with grants in their aid packages. The college will even waive application fees for first-generation college students. 

 

9. Carleton College

Location: Northfield, Minnesota

Enrollment: 2,097

U.S. News Ranking: #7

Acceptance Rate: 20%

 

With its reputation for academic excellence—18 Rhodes Scholars and 133 Fulbrights awarded to students and alumni since 2000—you might think Carleton College is filled with stuffy scholars, but you’re wrong. The “Carls” are a fun, quirky group with over 200 student organizations including dance groups and comedy troupes along with intramural sports such as quidditch and dodgeball. While education is a priority, the school’s unique traditions help lighten the mood; for example, the “Silent Dance Party” that occurs before finals, where students don headphones and dance together in the library. 

 

10. Grinnell College

Location: Grinnell, Iowa

Enrollment: 1,716

U.S. News Ranking: #14

Acceptance Rate: 24%

 

Social responsibility, cultural awareness, and mutual respect are core values at Grinnell College, and one result of this is the school’s reputation for social activism—it ranks near the top among schools of its size for sending volunteers to the Peace Corps. Likewise, more than half of Grinnell’s undergraduates participate in a study abroad program. Don’t let the remote location—it’s sometimes called “Little School on the Prairie”—or its lack of Greek life fool you into thinking it’s a quiet campus. The school is home to more than 100 student organizations and hosts a wide array of activities ranging from concerts to film festivals. 

 

11. Hampshire College

Location: Amherst, Massachusetts 

Enrollment: About 600 

U.S. News Ranking: N/A

Acceptance Rate: 63%

 

Hampshire College is known for its especially unorthodox academic system, where there are no predetermined majors (all students create their own!), and students aren’t given grades, but instead “narrative evaluations.”

 

Unfortunately, the school is struggling financially and its future is uncertain. In 2019, it enrolled just 15 students, down from 290 students in 2018. While the school has no plans to close, it has sought to merge with other institutions. For more information on what’s happening at Hampshire College, check out this informative article from Boston.com

 

12. Harvey Mudd College

Location: Claremont, California

Enrollment: 889

U.S. News Ranking: #23

Acceptance Rate: 14%

 

Small and distinguished, Harvey Mudd College is one of the nation’s best schools for students studying math, science, and engineering. Despite its small size and lack of fraternities and sororities, Harvey Mudd has an active campus: 99% of students live on campus. The college is also a member of Claremont Colleges, a collection of seven highly selective schools located in Claremont that make classes, dining halls, libraries, parties, sports teams, and other resources available to one another. On campus, students will find organizations such as the Gonzo Unicycle Madness club, whose Foster’s Run—a unicycle ride to a local donut shop—is a well-known school tradition. 

 

13. Kalamazoo College

Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan 

Enrollment: 1,467

U.S. News Ranking: #72

Acceptance Rate: 73%

 

Kalamazoo College is best known for its K-Plan, which provides students with an individualized curriculum. The K-Plan provides a dynamic learning experience—students participate in internships, externships, and service learning projects domestically, while gaining international and intercultural experience through participation in one of its 56 study abroad programs. While students won’t find Greek life on campus, they’ll find fun events like Zoo Flicks (movie screenings) on Friday nights, and Zoo After Dark (free food and games) onSaturday nights. 

 

14. Middlebury College

Location: Middlebury, Vermont

Enrollment: 2,579

U.S. News Ranking: #7

Acceptance Rate: 17%

 

Middlebury students with an interest in skiing are likely to not notice the absence of Greek life on campus when the snow starts to fly. Middlebury has 17 trails on the Middlebury College Snow Bowl ski area and is home to the country’s oldest winter carnival. In addition to being a winter wonderland, Middlebury uses a 4-1-4 academic calendar, which includes two four-month-long semesters, with a month-long mini-session in between. This mini-session allows Middlebury students to explore a specific class or opportunity. Middlebury is also especially known for its study abroad programs and immersive summer language programs, where students must sign a pledge promising to speak only the foreign language of the program.

 

15. Swarthmore College

Location: Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 

Enrollment: 1,559

U.S. News Ranking: #3

Acceptance Rate: 9%

 

A number of characteristics distinguish Swarthmore from other liberal arts colleges, one of which is its undergraduate engineering program—an oddity for a liberal arts school. Another is the school’s traditions; for example, the Crum Regatta, an event where students race homemade boats down Crum Creek. Swarthmore is a member of the Tri-College Consortium, along with Bryn Mawr and Haverford College, that allows Swatties to take classes at any of the participating schools. 

 

16. Vassar College

Location: Poughkeepsie, New York

Enrollment: 2,456

U.S. News Ranking: #14

Acceptance Rate: 25%

 

Vassar might be a college without Greek life, but the school does possess an active and vibrant on-campus community, with 98% of the student body living in the school’s residence halls and apartments, and 100+ student organizations. Vassar’s distinguishing characteristic is that it does not have a core curriculum; rather, students can declare a major by concentrating in a department, an interdepartmental program, a multidisciplinary program, or an Independent Program. This academic freedom has earned Vassar students a reputation for being free and original thinkers. 

 

17. Williams College

Location: Williamstown, Massachusetts

Enrollment: 2,073

U.S. News Ranking: #1

Acceptance Rate: 13%

 

One of the 18 schools that make up the “Little Ivies,” a group of select liberal arts schools in the Northeast, Williams College is notable for many things in addition to its world-class education. The Williams alumni society is the oldest in the world, and its graduating class of 1887 was the first to wear caps and gowns at graduation. Williams eliminated fraternities in the 1960s, but students today will find that camaraderie-building events like a schoolwide trivia contest and Mountain Day (an event where students hike nearby Mount Greylock) solidify school spirit and community. 

 

Women’s Liberal Arts Colleges Without Greek Life

 

18. Bryn Mawr College

Location: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Enrollment: 1,360

U.S. News Ranking: #27

Acceptance Rate: 34%

 

Women’s-only and sorority-free Bryn Mawr has a host of options for students looking to balance a single-sex education with coed opportunities. The school is a member of the Tri-College Consortium—with Haverford College and Swarthmore College—which allows students to take classes and attend social events at member schools. Bryn Mawr students may also take classes at the University of Pennsylvania. The college’s Praxis program allows students to put what they learned in the classroom to work in the real world, placing students in a wide variety of organizations in the community. 

 

19. Mount Holyoke College

Location: South Hadley, Massachusetts

Enrollment: 2,208

U.S. News Ranking: #32

Acceptance Rate: 51%

 

A residential college, almost all of the Mount Holyoke’s students live on campus—creating a tight-knit community that is academically rigorous, intellectually adventurous, and socially conscious. While the college is without Greek life, it is rich in collaboration spirit. Mount Holyoke is part of the Five College Consortium—along with Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, and UMass Amherst—which allows students to take courses and attend events at member schools. It’s also part of the Twelve College Exchange Program, where students can study at one of the eleven other member schools for one or two semesters. 

 

20. Scripps College

Location: Claremont, California 

Enrollment: 1,048

U.S. News Ranking: #33

Acceptance Rate: 24%

 

It’s easy not to notice the absence of sororities on Scripps College’s campus—it’s one of the prettiest campuses in the nation and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Scripps balances their students’ desires for a small college experience with the academic and social resources of a large institution. A member of the Claremont Colleges, the women of Scripps can take classes at any of the other schools. The spirit of collegiate community expands outside of the classroom as well; for example Scripps, Claremont McKenna, and Harvey Mudd field joint athletic teams that play under the name of the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas. 

 

21. Smith College

Location: Northampton, Massachusetts

Enrollment: 2,502

U.S. News Ranking: #11

Acceptance Rate: 31%

 

Not only will you not find Greek life on the campus of Smith College, you also won’t find traditional dorms. Rather, Smith students live in one of 35 separate houses. Ranging from gothic to modern styles, Smith student housing ranges from building capacity for 10 students to 100. Smith is one of the Seven Sisters Colleges, a group of seven historically all-women colleges, and a member of the Five College Consortium that allows students to take classes at Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, and UMass Amherst. 

 

22. Wellesley College

Location: Wellesley, Massachusetts

Enrollment: 2,534

U.S. News Ranking: #3

Acceptance Rate: 20%

 

While there is no Greek life on the campus of Wellesley College, it does offer one of the most diverse college communities in the nation—students hailing from 60 countries are enrolled at the school. Not just culturally diverse, the school is extremely socioeconomically diverse as well, thanks to its need-blind admission policy and generous policies that eliminate loans for students with the most financial need. Wellesley is a member of the Twelve College Exchange Program, which allows students at participating institutions to do a domestic study away for a semester or a year.

 

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Timothy Peck
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.