Most liberal colleges in America
While there is no indisputable proof that there are more liberals than conservatives in academia—and while it's likely arguments against political bias have more to do with ideological challenges rather than oppression—the perception that higher education is overwhelmingly liberal persists. A recurring theme in some conservative circles is that U.S. colleges are too liberal in general: Reporting from The Conversation holds that certain activists "have claimed that universities brainwash students and indoctrinate them into believing a liberal ideology.”
It is true, though, that some schools are more liberal than others. Just as there are purposely conservative schools, there also are schools that have a history of liberalism or progressive ideology, schools that exist in liberal regions, and schools that are progressive by design. These schools tend to be among the most prestigious, largest, and best-endowed schools in the United States.
Stacker consulted the college explorer Niche in order to determine the 50 most liberal universities and colleges in America. For this gallery, we ranked schools' liberalism based on students' reviews of the schools' campus communities. These reviews weighed the political leaning of the reviewer, if the reviewer attends or has attended the school, and the reviewer's opinion of it.
Niche's methodology considered students' self-reported poltiical leanings while at the college they currently or recently attend(ed); and the results of student surveys (data accurate as of 2019) on campus political preferences, specifically liberal students' opinions about the political leanings of students at the college tehy currently or recently attend(ed).
Keep reading to find out what schools are the country's most liberal.
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#50. University of Vermont
- Location: Burlington, VT
- Students: 10,395 (student to faculty ratio: 16:1)
- Acceptance rate: 67% (ACT: 25-30; SAT: 1180-1350)
- Tuition: $15,936 (in-state); $39,120 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 75%; six-year median earnings: $45,200
Vermont is very hippie- and hipster-friendly. One of the “Public Ivy” schools, the University of Vermont has been progressive in recent years, with the inclusion of gender-neutral, single-occupancy bathrooms throughout campus, extensive environmental sustainability initiatives, and its FeelGood chapter, which raised more than $100,000 toward ending extreme hunger.
#49. Ithaca College
- Location: Ithaca, NY
- Students: 5,936 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 71% (ACT: 23-28; SAT: data not available)
- Tuition: $43,978
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 76%; six-year median earnings: $50,300
Ithaca College is awash in progressive history. Within a two-hour drive are Seneca Falls—the site of the first women's rights convention—and the home of Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman. While not as large or well-known as neighboring Cornell and Syracuse universities, Ithaca College's strong liberal arts core has made it a top school for film, journalism, and media studies. Add to that its setting and Ithaca College becomes a strong candidate for the liberal-minded student-to-be.
#48. California State University - Dominguez Hills
- Location: Carson, CA
- Students: 10,084 (student to faculty ratio: 25:1)
- Acceptance rate: 54% (ACT: 15-19; SAT: 760-940)
- Tuition: $6,837 (in-state); $18,717 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 43%; six-year median earnings: $43,600
California State University-Dominguez Hills is not the best-known public university in California. It was, however, created from a desire to extend opportunities to African-Americans. The school served as a site for Vietnam War protests and is currently known for its high rates of ethnic and gender diversity.
#47. Spelman College
- Location: Atlanta, GA
- Students: 2,086 (student to faculty ratio: 11:1)
- Acceptance rate: 40% (ACT: 22-26; SAT: 1070-1220)
- Tuition: $28,181
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 74%; six-year median earnings: $46,800
The sister school of Morehouse College, the all-female Spelman College—along with Clark Atlanta University and the Morehouse School of Medicine—forms the Atlanta University Center Consortium, the largest contiguous consortium of African-American schools in the United States. A Historical Black College and University (HCBU), Spelman has graduated such notables as Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Alice Walker, politician Stacey Abrams, Children Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, and Alberta Williams King—the mother of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
#46. San Jose State University
- Location: San Jose, CA
- Students: 23,097 (student to faculty ratio: 27:1)
- Acceptance rate: 67% (ACT: 19-26; SAT: 1000-1210)
- Tuition: $7,721 (in-state); $19,601 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 57%; six-year median earnings: $53,700
In April, San Jose State University opened a food pantry for its neediest students, according to NBC Bay Area. Any enrolled student with an annual income of less than $33,000 may use the pantry once a week to ensure they have access to the nutrition they need.
#45. California State University - Los Angeles
- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Students: 21,004 (student to faculty ratio: 25:1)
- Acceptance rate: 46% (ACT: 15-20; SAT: 890-1080)
- Tuition: $6,639 (in-state); $18,519 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 47%; six-year median earnings: $43,900
Cal State LA has distinguished itself as being a Hispanic-serving institution, a federally recognized higher learning institution that has more than 25 percent of its full-time enrolled students of Hispanic descent. The university is home of one of the best business programs in the nation, the country's first Charter College of Education, a National Science Foundation-funded environmental research center, and other facilities of note.
#44. Bowdoin College
- Location: Brunswick, ME
- Students: 1,813 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 14% (ACT: 31-33; SAT: 1360-1510)
- Tuition: $51,848
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 95%; six-year median earnings: $58,700
The fifth-best liberal arts college (tie) in the nation for 2019, Bowdoin College was a men-exclusive college until 1971, when the first women were admitted. It is one of the few competitive schools to make taking the SAT and ACT optional for enrollment.
#43. Boston University
- Location: Boston, MA
- Students: 16,840 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 25% (ACT: 29-32; SAT: 1300-1480)
- Tuition: $52,082
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 87%; six-year median earnings: $62,000
The largest school in New England, Boston University is emblematic of the city it's in: Many of its buildings being recognizable landmarks. The alma mater of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—where he received his Ph.D. in systematic theology in 1955—also boasts an alumni roster that includes Alexander Graham Bell, Elie Wiesel, Isaac Asimov, Saul Bellow, President William Howard Taft, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, and Howard Stern.
#42. Hofstra University
- Location: Hempstead, NY
- Students: 6,494 (student to faculty ratio: 13:1)
- Acceptance rate: 64% (ACT: 24-29; SAT: 1130-1310)
- Tuition: $41,100
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 63%; six-year median earnings: $52,400
Besides the notable distinction of being the first university Donald Trump attended, Hofstra University is Long Island's largest private university. The school has hosted several presidential debates, reflecting an interest by the school in increasing its profile in the public policy arena. Besides Trump, James Caan, Francis Ford Coppola, and Christopher Walken went to Hofstra.
#41. Northeastern University
- Location: Boston, MA
- Students: 13,786 (student to faculty ratio: 14:1)
- Acceptance rate: 27% (ACT: 32-34; SAT: 1370-1520)
- Tuition: $49,497
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 87%; six-year median earnings: $64,000
Boston has more than its share of first-class universities. Northeastern University is Boston's research university, relying on a cooperative educational model—which pairs classroom work with professional experiences, such as internships—to offer a complete educational experience. It is one of the leading schools in the world for co-op education and internships.2018 All rights reserved.