An Academic Influencer: Pitzer Ranks #31 on New Best Liberal Arts Colleges List

Campus photo between commencement plaza and the mounds

Claremont, Calif. (February 24, 2021)—Pitzer College was ranked #31 on the 50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities of 2021 list released by Academic Influence, a new college rankings site run by a team of academics and data scientists. Based on the premise that “people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great,” Academic Influence’s rankings factor in “academic influencers”—including faculty and alumni.

“If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence,” Academic Influence’s website says.

Academic Influence calculates its rankings based on a measure it calls “Concentrated Influence.” Forbes magazine summarized the site’s methodology in a recent article, describing the way Academic Influence searches open-source data for mentions of individuals’ achievements:

“…the Concentrated Influence score of a given institution is calculated by combining all the ‘mentions’ of the individuals who’ve been associated with that institution as faculty, administrators or alums,” the Forbes article says. “That score is then divided by the school’s total number of undergraduates. Adjusting for size this way gives small and mid-sized schools an equal chance of competing with larger colleges.”

Based on that approach, the site says Pitzer is most influential in the academic fields of sociology, anthropology, economics, physics, and psychology. It counted environmentalist Hunter Lovins ’72, FX Networks Chair John Landgraf ’84, and World War Z author Max Brooks ’94 among the College’s most influential alumni.

According to Forbes, the site limits its search data to the past 10 years and suppresses the names of famous figures who would otherwise “exert an inordinate influence on a school’s ranking. (So, for example, Wellesley College won’t get a big bounce from its alumna Hillary Clinton.)”

Academic Influence identified 998 liberal arts colleges in the US that have 1,000 students or more. To be considered for its 50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities of 2021 list, colleges must meet this enrollment figure and also be fully accredited non-profit institutions. Three other Claremont Colleges were on the list: Pomona College (#12), Claremont McKenna College (#18), and Scripps College (#39). Harvey Mudd College, which enrolls fewer than 1,000 students, wasn’t eligible for consideration.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit

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