Wells takes a unique approach to higher education that puts hands-on learning at the center of all we do. Classroom learning is directly connected to future careers in a global society. Our students have unique and diverse opportunities to conduct research with faculty members, hold internships, and study across the United States and abroad. Over 80% of our classes are less than 20 students, and 100% of our graduates complete at least one internship during their time at Wells.
And both during their time as on campus — and after they graduate — Wells students benefit from our experienced team in the Center for Academic and Career Advising, which assists them with career counseling preparation, internships, and post-graduate advising and services such as resume reviews.
Situated on more than 300 scenic acres overlooking Cayuga Lake in central New York, Wells College offers the simplicity and safety of village living and easy access to metropolitan and educational centers: ½ hour from Ithaca (home of Cornell University), 1 hour from Rochester and Syracuse, and 5 hours from New York City. The Finger Lakes are known for vast outdoor recreational opportunities and for a high concentration of outstanding colleges and universities. Map and Driving Directions >>
Wells College was established in 1868 by Henry Wells, who also founded the Wells Fargo and American Express companies. During the 2018–2019 year, Wells celebrated its 150th anniversary with a series of events, programs and other activities.
The mission of Wells College is to educate students to think critically, reason wisely, and act humanely as they cultivate meaningful lives. Through Wells’ academic program, residential atmosphere, and community activities, students learn and practice the ideals of the liberal arts. The Wells experience prepares students to appreciate complexity and difference, to embrace new ways of knowing, to be creative, and to respond ethically to the interdependent worlds to which they belong. Committed to excellence in all areas of its reach, Wells College equips students for lifelong learning and for sharing the privileges of education with others.
Jonathan Gibralter, Ph.D. has served as president of Wells College since July 2015. He came to Wells from Frostburg State University in Maryland, where he led efforts to improve student life, relationships with the community, enrollment, and fundraising. President Gibralter is a nationally recognized leader on issues of sustainability and student alcohol abuse. Read more about President Gibralter.
85 percent of Wells faculty members have doctorates or terminal degrees in their disciplines. Faculty members hold degrees from Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, University of California–Berkeley, Brown, Cornell and Stanford, among others. Approximately 86% are tenured or in tenure-track positions.
As of fall 2021, there are approximately 335 full-time students enrolled at Wells College (74% from New York state, 24% from other U.S. states, and 2% from six countries other than the U.S.). The student body is 60% female, 39% male, and 1% nonbinary.
The Wells College student community is an increasingly diverse one. In fall 2021, the student body included 15.0% Black, 17.3% Hispanic, 2.6% Asian/Pacific Islander and 1.5% American Indian/Alaskan Native. These figures do not include the 2.6% of students who self-identify as having multiple ethnic or racial backgrounds, nor the 6.2% of students whose race or ethnicity was not reported to the College.
Facts, Figures, and Rankings
Wells College is highly ranked on a number of leading national surveys and indexes. Recently, it was:
- Named by U.S. News and World Report as the #124 best liberal arts college in the entire country, and ranked #14 for social mobility and #44 for campus diversity among liberal arts colleges
- Included in the 2022 Princeton Review list of best northeastern colleges as well as its most recent (2021) list of the 416 best "green colleges"
- Included in the 2020 Washington Monthly list of top liberal arts colleges and "Best Bang for the Buck" colleges nationwide
- Listed as the #1 on the list of "most historically notable colleges in America" by Best College Reviews
In addition, Wells College has earned a number of accolades related to sustainability and environment:
- Upgraded to a "gold" rating on the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) rubric in 2018 by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
- Included in the Sierra Club's 2021 "Cool Schools" list of 325+ college and universities that promote sustainability values and practices in higher education
A wide range of additional information about Wells, including our retention and graduation rates, can be found on our profile on the National Center for Education Statistics website. You can also read more about the College's sustainability efforts.
Statement of Accreditation
Wells College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and by the New York State Department of Education. As of June 27, 2022, Wells College’s accreditation status is “Accreditation Reaffirmed.” The Middle States Commission’s most recent action on the institution’s accreditation status, on June 24, 2021, was to reaffirm accreditation. MSCHE is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and its mailing address is 1007 N. Orange Street, 4th floor - MB #166, Wilmington, DE 19801. Current documents concerning the College’s accreditation are available for review upon request to the Office of the President. You may also find further information at the MSCHE website.
Wells offers over a dozen locations for study-abroad opportunities, including our flagship program in Florence, Italy, as well as affiliated programs in places like Australia and New Zealand, Belize, Costa Rica, Ireland, South Africa, and Tanzania. Wells also participates in a study-away program at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine.
3/2 and 4+1 Articulation Programs
Through affiliations with the University of Rochester, Clarkson University, Columbia University, Binghamton University and other partner institutions, within five years students may earn both an undergraduate degree from Wells and a professional degree in business, chiropractic, engineering, nursing, pharmaceutical sciences, or teacher education from the affiliated university.
The following programs are available as pre-professional tracks: educational studies (elementary and secondary certification), engineering (B.A./B.S.), pre-law, health professions (including medicine, nursing, dentistry and veterinary medicine).
Wells and nearby Cornell University share a close academic and social relationship. Wells students may register for courses offered by any of the seven undergraduate colleges at Cornell. The College also has cross-registration agreements with Ithaca College and Cayuga Community College.
The College is a Division III member of both the NCAA and the United East (formerly known as the North Eastern Athletic Conference), and 37% of all Wells students are also student-athletes. Many play more than one sport!
Wells offers the following intercollegiate teams:
- Women: basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, and volleyball
- Men: baseball, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, and volleyball
More information on our intercollegiate athletics program may be found at the Wells Express website.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Approximately 99% of Wells students receive financial aid, with about 98% eligible to receive need-based aid and 78% receiving merit-based aid.