Little Ivy League

Little Ivies is a colloquialism referring to a group of small, selective American liberal arts colleges; however, it does not denote any official organization.

Institutions identified as Little Ivies are usually old, small, exclusive, and academically competitive liberal arts colleges located in the northeastern United States. The colloquialism is meant to imply that Little Ivies share similarities with the universities of the Ivy League.

Little Three

The Little Three is a term used in the United States to refer Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams. The term "Little Three" is well-defined as a former athletic league and has often been used to identify these schools as a socially and academically elite trio; the term has also been used to compare the three institutions with the so-called Big Three of the Ivy League: Harvard, Yale and Princeton . Encarta defines "Little Ivies" to refer to these three schools, which it characterizes as "small" and "exclusive" and as having "high academic standards and long traditions.“


The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is an NCAA Division III athletic conference, consisting of eleven highly selective liberal arts colleges and universities located in New England and New York. Often referred to as the "Little Ivies", most of the schools have competed against one another since the 19th century.
The idea for such an athletic conference originated with an agreement among Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Wesleyan University and Williams College drafted in 1955.[1] In 1971 Bates College, Colby College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Union College joined on and NESCAC was officially formed. Today's sustaining members include all the original members but Union, which withdrew in 1977 and was replaced by Connecticut College in 1982.“

Hidden Ivies

Thirty Colleges of Excellence is a college educational guide published in 2000. It concerns college admissions in the United States. The authors define both the title of this book as well as their goals in writing it on page one in the following manner: "Our mission in writing this book for students and parents is to create greater awareness of the small, distinctive cluster of colleges and universities of excellence that are available to gifted college-bound students." In the introduction, the authors further explain their aim by referring specifically to "the group historically known as the 'Little Ivies' (including Amherst, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Swarthmore, Wesleyan, and Williams)" which the authors say have "scaled the heights of prestige and selectivity and also turn away thousands of our best and brightest young men and women."
In this book, the authors (using the same criteria often used to evaluate Ivy League schools) discuss thirty American schools that are small in size and are either liberal arts colleges or universities that emulate them. Hidden Ivies: 50 Top Colleges that Rival the Ivy League, the second edition of the guide published in 2009, evaluates fifty "renowned academic institutions."
Nine of the fifty schools in the second edition are located in the Midwestern United States, 24 in the Northeastern United States, 11 in the Southern United States, and six in the Western United States. “