Grinnell College

Exceptional, Engaged Liberal Arts Education at Grinnell

Grinnell College appears on our list of the 30 Best Colleges for Young Democrats.


Ranked 11th nationally by the U.S. News & World Report, Grinnell College is a private, nonprofit “Hidden Ivy” in rural Iowa that delivers 500+ classes at a 9:1 student-teacher ratio each 14-week semester for 27 bachelor’s majors and 15 concentrations. For example, the Bachelor of Arts in Music crafts a 124-credit, HLC-accredited program where undergrads can join the Oratorio Society, audition for the Fresh Flutes, perform at the 338-seat Sebring Lewis Hall, and attend the Fitzgibbons Music Seminar. Chaired by Dr. Mark Montgomery in Carnegie Hall, the 124-credit Bachelor of Arts in Economics integrates the Wilson Program Internship to prepare Pioneers for 96 percent job placement at Amazon, Google, Goldman Sachs, IBM, The Federal Reserve, Farm Credit Services of America, and more.

Since Spring 2015, Grinnell College has partnered with the University of Iowa for a 4+1 Cooperative Master of Public Health that lets second-term juniors begin CEPH-accredited online courses, such as Epidemiology and Disease Prevention, with 200-hour field placements like UnityPoint Health. Directed by Dr. Renée Bourgeois Parsons, the Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics shapes a 124-credit, four-year curriculum with Data Consulting Center projects, the optional Budapest Semester, Investcorp internships, and Quiz Bowl competitions.

Featured Programs

Other degrees include the Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, Bachelor of Arts in Chinese, Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science, Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Bachelor of Arts in Dance, Bachelor of Arts in Russian, and Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education.

About Grinnell College

Grinnell College originated in 1846 when 11 New England Congregationalist ministers from Andover Theological Seminary banded together to found Iowa College in Davenport. In 1854, brothers John and William Windsor became Iowa College’ first graduates for just $24 tuition. In 1865, the Ladies’ Course was added for college-level diplomas. In 1879, Iowa College graduated the first African-American student named Hannibal Kershaw. In 1897, educator Carrie Rand notably donated funds to erect the E.D. Rand Gymnasium. By 1909, it was formally renamed Grinnell College to honor Congressman Josiah Bushnell Grinnell. In 1916, the Grinnell-in-China Program debuted for studying abroad in Techow. In 1959, President Howard Bowen established the Program in Practical Political Education. Eight years later, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “Remaining Awake Through Revolution” speech to 4,000 at Grinnell.

Endowed for $1.9 billion, Grinnell College now employs 237 faculty teaching 1,712 Pioneers from 37 states and 39 countries at the 120-acre, 63-building “Jewel of the Prairie” campus with 150+ clubs like Oxfam International plus 3,000 internship partners. In 2010, its Burling Library won the National Book Committee’s AIA/ALA Library Building Award. In 2018, Grinnell received the Preservation at its Best Award from Preservation Iowa. Grinnell College accepted the United Soccer Coaches’ 2018 College Team Ethics & Sportsmanship Award too. Forbes named Grinnell the 65th top college and 25th best liberal arts institution. On Niche, Grinnell boasts America’s 21st best sociology, 36th best physics, 38th top art, and 39th top chemistry degrees. The Princeton Review honored Grinnell College for the 11th best financial aid and seventh best athletics. Money magazine picked Grinnell as the 237th top value.

Grinnell College Accreditation Details

On March 8, 2019, the Higher Learning Commission on North Central Association (HLC-NCA) mailed formal notification to Grinnell College that updated the Institutional Status Report to reflect Level II accreditation valid through 2028-29 under the 13th president, Dr. Raynard S. Kington, who received the FASEB Public Service Excellence Award. Located 286 miles east via Interstate 88 in Chicago, Illinois, this humongous 19-state Heartland Region accreditor is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and Iowa Department of Higher Education. Further, the Cooperative Master of Public Health was reaffirmed by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) on September 21, 2018. All 3+2 Engineering programs with Columbia, Cal Tech, Rensselaer, and Washington St. Louis are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) too.

Grinnell College Application Requirements

Admission to Grinnell College is classified “very difficult” by Peterson’s because only 1,689 of the 5,850 Fall 2017 applicants were chosen for super selective 29 percent acceptance. First-year Pioneers must verify the completion of a qualifying high school or home-school curriculum. The Class of 2021 had an average 3.94 GPA in rigorous secondary academics. The middle 50th percentile of freshmen had ACT composite scores of 30-33. Admitted mid-range SAT scores were 640-750 for Critical Reading and 680-780 for Math. The Advanced Scholars Program requires a minimum 30 ACT or 1350 SAT mark. Transfers are generally test-optional with 12+ credits from accredited colleges and GPAs over 3.0. The Guaranteed 2+2 Des Moines Area Community College Agreement requires no course grades below B-. International students prove English fluency with 100 TOEFL iBT, 6.5 IELTS, and higher scores. Cooperative Master of Public Health students must have passed 80 credits, including Biology and Chemistry, for GPAs over 3.25.

Grinnell College enforces freshman deadlines of November 15th for Early Decision I, January 1st for Early Decision II, and January 15th for Regular Decision. Applying by December 1st is suggested for Merit Scholarship priority. Undergrad transfers are processed until April 1st for Fall and November 1st for Spring. The Advanced Scholars Program has August 1st and January 1st deadlines. Cooperative Master of Public Health cohorts must file by February 1st. Accordingly, complete the Common or Questbridge Application online for $0. Forward official transcripts to 1115 Eighth Avenue in Grinnell, IA 50112. Provide standardized test scores via SAT/TOEFL code 6252 or ACT code 1318. Attach supplemental materials like the counselor recommendation form, two teacher evaluations, secondary school report, writing sample, and art/music portfolio. Contact (641) 269-4000 or with questions.

Tuition and Financial Aid

For 2019-20, Grinnell College is charging full-time Bachelor of Arts majors $26,936 per term or $53,872 annually. Undergrads pay a $482 activity fee each year. Fall term bills include $1,687 for health insurance unless waived. Residing at the Iowa campus’ 19 dorms like Younker Hall adds $6,278 for yearly rent. All-access meal plans for Marketplace Dining Hall are $7,014 extra. Grinnell budgets $900 for books, $1,100 for personal expenses, and $700 for travel. Annual bachelor’s attendance equals about $70,346 on-site or $57,054 at home. The Cooperative Master of Public Health bills Iowa residents $15,909 and non-residents $34,365 for UI tuition.

According to the NCES College Navigator, the Student Financial Services Office at 1227 Park Street connects 88 percent of full-time Grinnell Pioneers to tuition aid averaging $34,094 each for $51.03 million combined. Institutional funds include the Founder’s Scholarship, Dean’s Scholarship, National Merit Scholarship, Harry Hopkins 1912 Grant, Stouffer Fellowship, Lori Ann Schwab Community Service Award, Joseph Rosenfield Scholarship, Howard Bowen Scholarship, Trustee Honor Scholarship, Dollars for Scholars Award, and Curd Ensemble Scholarship. Since 2000, the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation has developed local programs like the McCormick Scholarship, Hilke Family Scholarship, Nathan Figland Memorial Scholarship, and Sid Potts Scholarship. FAFSA applications coded 001868 can unlock the Federal Pell Grant, SEOG Grant, Teach Grant, Work-Study Program, and Direct Loan. Cooperative Master of Public Health students apply for the MPH Opportunity Award until March 1st. Iowans also access the Bright Foundation Scholarship, Horatio Alger Scholarship, Freddy Miranda Scholarship, Matthew Shepard Scholarship, Robert D. Blue Scholarship, and others.

Search through 42 accredited liberal arts programs placed 76th overall by Times Higher Education at the Grinnell College website.