UNC Asheville Is Ranked in Nation’s Top 20 for “Best Quality of Life,” “Town-Gown Relations,” and More, in The Princeton Review’s “The Best 385 Colleges,” 2020 Edition

Students hug the statue of Rocky, UNC Asheville's mascot
August 6, 2019

UNC Asheville is once again featured as one of The Princeton Review’s best colleges and is ranked in the top 20 nationally on several lists with accolades for the “Best Quality of Life,” and “The City Gets High Marks.” The universities included in the 2020 edition of The Best 385 Colleges were chosen “primarily based on our high opinion of their academics,” according to The Princeton Review.

The description of UNC Asheville in The Best 385 Colleges, 2020 Edition, begins this way:

Offering “small class sizes,” “local art culture,” and “environmental sustainability,” UNC Asheville is “the only public liberal arts school” in North Carolina. Professors are “some of the best in their respective fields” and “have time to invest interest in your individual advancement—not only in the course, but in your life…may come to you with job, internship or volunteer opportunities.” Students praise the fruitful relationships with faculty and opportunities for hands-on research. Says one first-year student, “I…am able to be a research assistant to a teacher who is working on a cloud computing model for ALS research, an amazing opportunity that I only would get at UNC Asheville.”

Additional student survey comments cited by The Princeton Review include:

  • “My peers are inquisitive, mindful, compassionate, and hungry for justice.”
  • The “town and the mountains make living here an exceptional experience,” says another student.
  • Students at UNC Asheville also truly “care about the environment,” and are generally “compassionate,” “open-minded,” and “accepting.”

The Princeton Review’s guide does not rank the 385 schools hierarchically, but does include 62 different ranked top-20 lists, based on its surveys of 140,000 students attending the 385 colleges in the book in 2018-19 and/or the previous two academic years. The survey asked students 84 questions about their school’s academics, administration, campus community, and themselves. The 62 lists range from the straightforward “Students Pack the Stadiums” and “Best College Radio Station,” to the quirkier “Election, What Election?” and “Got Milk?”

Based on the student surveys, UNC Asheville was included on these national top-20 lists:

  • Best Quality of Life (18th)
  • LGBTQ-Friendly (12th)
  • College City Gets High Marks (14th)
  • Town-Gown Relations Are Great (14th)
  • Least Religious Students (18th)
  • Tree-Hugging Vegetarians (18th)
  • Most Politically Active Students (19th)

UNC Asheville has also been ranked either first or second in the nation on the “Best Schools for Making an Impact” list in two of the past four editions of The Princeton Review’s annual winter publication, Colleges That Pay You Back.

U.S. News & World Report also ranks UNC Asheville highly, as seventh-best public liberal arts university in the nation. Kiplinger’s lists UNC Asheville as a best college value. Forbes included UNC Asheville in its recent publication, “America’s Best College Values,” and the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2020 once again included UNC Asheville among the “best and most interesting” colleges in the country.

Applications open on Aug. 15 for early decision and regular decision admission to UNC Asheville for the fall 2020 semester. For more information about UNC Asheville, including the Discovery Days campus tours on Sept. 28 and Nov. 9, visit unca.edu/admission.


UNC Asheville transforms lives through leadership and education. The designated liberal arts and sciences institution for the UNC System and one of the nation’s top 10 public liberal arts universities, UNC Asheville enrolls 3,800 students and offers more than 30 undergraduate majors and a Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences degree. UNC Asheville also encourages students to take part in a nationally acclaimed undergraduate research program and participate in interdisciplinary learning. From internships and hands-on projects, to study abroad and community engagement, students experience an education that extends beyond campus into the vibrant City of Asheville, the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and the world. Learn more at www.unca.edu.