Eight private universities in the northeast United States make up the Ivy League. These universities are known for their academic excellence and ability to attract top students. The term Ivy League is so popular that "Ivy" is used as a name to denote other colleges that offer excellent academics. Little Ivies generally refers to a group of three small, select American liberal arts colleges: Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams. Tufts University is sometimes included on the list. However, the Little Ivies are not declared officially, so there is no consensus of the colleges that make up the Little Ivies.

Amherst College

Founded in 1821, Amherst College (amherst.edu), located in Amherst, Massachusetts, enrolls about 1,700 talented young men and women each year. Regarded as one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the U.S., Amherst awards bachelor's degrees in 36 majors. Major areas of study include computer science, religion, theatre and Spanish. The college's athletic teams compete in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

Williams College

Williams (williams.edu) is a private, liberal arts college and one of the oldest educational institutions in the U.S. It is situated in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Williams was set up in 1793, using the funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams. It admits U.S. students with no consideration about their financial capability, and also offers financial aid to international students. Humanities, sciences and social sciences form the three academic divisions of the college. There are 25 departments in all, with 36 majors, and other special programs.

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Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University (wesleyan.edu) in Connecticut attracts students from all over the world. The university offers over 40 academic areas. Though Wesleyan does not offer minor programs, students can opt for a double major, a triple major or a customized major program. The curriculum offered at Wesleyan is a self-directed one; students develop their own syllabus based on their interests, with support from the faculty.

Tufts University

Tufts University (tufts.edu) is a private university in Boston, Massachusetts. The university offers undergraduate programs in areas such as engineering, English, art history, computer science and biology. Master's, doctoral and graduate certificate programs are also available. Tufts offers study abroad programs. Tufts fields men's and women's athletic teams and competes in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

About the Author

Devon Willis started writing in 2002. He has worked for publication houses like Edward Elgar Publishing and Nelson Thornes in Gloucestershire, England. He has a B.A. in journalism and a M.A. in mass communication from the University of Gloucestershire and London Metropolitan University, respectively.