Students walk near the chapel on the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick in this in March 2016 file photo. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

For the second year in a row, three Maine educational institutions made the top 25 liberal arts colleges rankings in the country by U.S. News & World Report, whose annual lists released Monday have become a closely watched source for school bragging rights.

Among the three, Bowdoin College in Brunswick ranked highest at sixth, the same as last year. That’s out of the 223 national liberal arts colleges ranked by the magazine, which highlighted that SAT or ACT score submissions are not mandatory at the school and that more than half of the students study abroad for a semester through more than 100 affiliated academic programs.

Colby College in Waterville, which had risen to 11th last year, fell several points this year to 15th. U.S. News cited the school’s wildlife refuge as a distinguishing characteristic. The college has about 100 student-run clubs and organizations on campus ranging from the Colby Ballroom Dance Club to the Society Organized Against Racism.

Bates College in Lewiston was down one notch from last year at 22nd. About one-third of Bates students participate in varsity athletics, and the Bates Bobcats are members of the NCAA Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference.

Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, ranked first and is one of the oldest colleges in the country, according to U.S. News.

U.S. News also distinguished Bates for its undergraduate research and creative projects, ranking it 30th, while Bowdoin ranked 44th.

Four Maine schools were among the most innovative liberal arts colleges, with Bates ranked sixth, College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor 12th, Colby 14th and Bowdoin 29th.

Three also got a nod for being the best-valued liberal art colleges, with College of the Atlantic ninth, Colby 10th and Bowdoin 12th.