What You need To Know About Carleton College

Carleton College is a highly esteemed liberal arts college located in Northfield, Minnesota. Founded in 1866, Carleton is one of the oldest and most selective liberal arts colleges in the United States. The college offers a rigorous academic program with a strong emphasis on critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, and interdisciplinary learning. Carleton fosters a close-knit and supportive community that values collaboration and open dialogue. Carleton’s faculty is distinguished and deeply committed to teaching and mentoring students.

Carleton’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity is evident in its diverse student body and the wide array of perspectives that students bring to campus. The college emphasizes the importance of fostering a welcoming and supportive environment where all students can thrive and feel valued.

Carleton College is known for its strong sense of community and tradition. Students are encouraged to develop a sense of responsibility and civic engagement, contributing to the broader society through service and leadership. With its rich history, academic excellence, and warm community, Carleton College continues to attract ambitious and intellectually curious students from across the nation and the world.


Carleton College’s campus is nestled in the picturesque town of Northfield, Minnesota, on a sprawling 1,040-acre property. The campus exudes a sense of tranquility and natural beauty, providing an ideal environment for academic pursuits and personal growth. With a blend of historic and modern architecture, Carleton’s buildings showcase a harmonious blend of traditional and contemporary design.

The Bald Spot is at the heart of the campus where students often gather to relax, study, or engage in social activities. The outdoor areas of the campus offer stunning views of the college’s iconic Bell Field House and the serene Lyman Lakes.

Carleton’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its eco-friendly practices and LEED-certified buildings, such as the Weitz Center for Creativity and the Cassat and Nourse Halls. The campus also features numerous walking and biking paths that encourage students to explore the natural beauty of the surroundings.

One of the campus’s unique features is the Cowling Arboretum, a vast natural area that offers hiking trails, wetlands, and prairies, providing students with ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, research, and environmental exploration.

Carleton College’s campus fosters a strong sense of community, where students, faculty, and staff come together to create a vibrant and intellectually stimulating environment. With its captivating scenery, modern amenities, and warm community atmosphere, Carleton’s campus provides a nurturing backdrop for students to excel academically and enjoy a well-rounded college experience.

Student Cohort Size

Carleton College has a total enrollment of 2,044 students. 10% of the admitted students are from 46 different countries and 90% of students represent 50 states. The student body is nearly evenly split between men and women, with 51% female students and 49% male students.

Four-Year Completion Rate

The graduation rate is among the most important factors when selecting a college.  Carleton College’s first-year retention rate is 94%. This means that 94% of first-year students continue their education for their sophomore year and beyond. The 4-year graduation rate is 87%. This implies that 87% of students were able to graduate after 4 years. The 6-year graduation rate is 94%. This implies that 94% of students were able to graduate after 6 years.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

The student-to-faculty ratio at Carleton College is 8:1. The average class size for most of the classes is 15 students. With a low student-to-faculty ratio, students benefit from personalized attention and close relationships with professors.


Acceptance Rate

Carleton College is a selective liberal arts college with an acceptance rate of 17%. The college received 8,583 applicants and 535 students enrolled for the Class of 2026. The admitted students represented 46 states and 24 countries. 75% of the admitted students graduated in the top 10% of their class. Among the admitted students there were 38 National Merit Scholars and 4 National Hispanic Recognition Scholars.

Types of Admission

Carleton College applicants can apply through the Early Decision or Regular Decision programs. Early Decision is a binding admission plan for students who have determined that Carleton College is their first choice and who feel they can present a strong application without senior grades being reviewed. Students admitted through the Early Decision admission plan are required to cancel their applications elsewhere and enroll in Carleton College. Regular Decision is a non-binding and unrestrictive admission plan that allows students more time to complete the application and to have grades from the first term of their senior year considered in the review.

Application Components

All required parts of the Common Application
Official high school transcript: An official high school transcript will display courses and grades for all years of high school attended.
Mid-year grades: Mid-year grades are the first semester or first trimester grades from your final year of high school.
Guidance Counselor letter of recommendation: The guidance counselor’s recommendation should detail academic and personal preparedness for post-secondary education.
Two academic teacher letters of recommendation: Recommendations must be from core academic teachers who worked with a student in 10th, 11th, or 12th grade.
Standardized Test Scores: While test scores are optional for students applying for fall 2023 and fall 2024, the average SAT scores for admitted students were between 1410 and 1550, and the average ACT scores were between 31 and 35.


Academics at Carleton are renowned for their excellence and flexibility. The college offers a wide range of undergraduate majors, including English, history, biology, economics, and political science. Carleton also offers a number of interdisciplinary programs, such as environmental studies, peace and conflict studies, and visual and media arts.

The college operates on a trimester system, allowing students to delve deep into their studies and explore diverse subjects throughout the year. The curriculum is designed to encourage students to think critically, communicate effectively, and approach complex problems from multiple angles. The college offers a wide range of majors and concentrations, enabling students to tailor their education to their individual interests and career goals.

Most Popular Majors

Computer Science
International Relations
Research and Experimental Psychology
Geology and Earth Science

Direct Costs
Tuition $68,457
Student Activity Fee* $435
Housing $9,282
Food $8,304
Comprehensive Fee $86,478
Indirect Costs
Estimated books and personal costs** $1,878
Travel (average) $850
Total Cost of Attendance $89,204

Carleton College has more than 200 student-run organizations that cover everything from arts to athletics to activism. More than 70 percent of students take part in sports at Carleton. This includes everything from varsity soccer to Ultimate Frisbee to competitive ballroom dancing. Carleton College has 20 varsity teams, 24 club sports, 14 intramural leagues, and dozens of physical education classes.

To conclude, Carleton College is a highly selective liberal arts college with a strong academic reputation and a vibrant campus life. If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding undergraduate education, Carleton College is a great option.

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