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Most liberal public colleges in America

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cdrin // Shutterstock

Most liberal public colleges in America

Political activism in the United States has evolved and changed in the past several decades, and college campuses have often been the center of this activism. With issues of free speech and free expression being debated, there is a spotlight on the ratio of liberals to conservatives amongst the student bodies and faculty staff on college campuses.

With a major United States federal election approaching in 2020, political discourse and conversations will be louder than usual. As high school students around the country look at potential colleges and universities to apply to and attend, this year may be one where political leanings on campus may play a factor in these all-important decisions.

Stacker examined the nation's colleges and universities and compiled a list of the 50 most liberal public colleges in the United States; as such, this list does not include private institutions. For this list, we consulted the research website Niche, which ranked schools' liberalism based on students' reviews of the schools' campus communities.

These reviews weigh the personal political leanings of the reviewer, if the reviewer attends or has attended the school, and the reviewer's opinion of the overall leanings of the student body. Details on Niche's methodology explain the site's rankings, and survey data are accurate as of October 2019.

Each slide will discuss relevant points about a school’s history and curriculum, with special attention given to political activism, demographics, trends, environmental initiatives, and notable alumni. The order of this list is from least liberal to most liberal. Click on to see the 50 most liberal universities in the United States.

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Benjamin D. Esham // Wikimedia Commons

#50. SUNY Geneseo

- Location: Geneseo, NY
- Students: 5,452
- Acceptance rate: 72%
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Faculty ratio: 19:1
- In-state Tuition: $8,408
- Out-of-state tuition: $18,026
- Six year median earnings: $48,800

SUNY Geneseo, established in 1871, touts flexibility in its curriculum and several “global experiences” and research opportunities. With an emphasis on western humanities, it should be little surprise that his campus invites a number of students who subscribe to liberal philosophies.

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Mx. Granger // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Rutgers University - Newark

- Location: Newark, NJ
- Students: 7,162
- Acceptance rate: 64%
- Graduation rate: 68%
- Faculty ratio: 15:1
- In-state Tuition: $14,085
- Out-of-state tuition: $30,026
- Six year median earnings: $57,900

Formerly a private institution, the New Jersey State Legislature voted in 1945 to make Rutgers part of the state university, incorporating the Newark campus with the then-University of Newark. It is a public research university, and one of the most diverse universities in the country according to U.S. News & World Report. Rutgers is generally a politically active campus, particularly amongst Democrats on campus.

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Yagna Theja Daggupat // Shutterstock

#48. SUNY Binghamton

- Location: Vestal, NY
- Students: 13,345
- Acceptance rate: 40%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Faculty ratio: 19:1
- In-state Tuition: $9,523
- Out-of-state tuition: $24,403
- Six year median earnings: $61,600

Through its history since the university’s establishment in 1946, Binghamton University evolved from a small liberal arts school to a large research university. A majority of students at the school are from New York state, with all students having to take general education courses that include classes such as social science and U.S. pluralism. Binghamton is also known for its top-tier debate program.

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Sage Ross // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Central Connecticut State University

- Location: New Britain, CT
- Students: 7,605
- Acceptance rate: 67%
- Graduation rate: 52%
- Faculty ratio: 16:1
- In-state Tuition: $10,225
- Out-of-state tuition: $22,914
- Six year median earnings: $47,900

Originally a teacher training school, Central Connecticut State University is a public university that focuses on education for the professions. A vast majority of students at Central Connecticut State University are from in-state and most of them identify as Democrats. The school’s programming is meant to prepare students to be “‘global citizens,’ responsive to a world of cultural differences.”

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Steve Pribut // Wikimedia Commons

#46. St. Mary’s College of Maryland

- Location: St. Mary’s City, MD
- Students: 1,516
- Acceptance rate: 82%
- Graduation rate: 78%
- Faculty ratio: 10:1
- In-state Tuition: $12,116
- Out-of-state tuition: $28,192
- Six year median earnings: $52,200

As a small liberal arts school, St. Mary’s College of Maryland touts an experience similar to that of an elite private college. The school has a curriculum that values social responsibility and global engagement, with the school emphasizing its diversity. In committing to the student body’s diversity, St. Mary’s also has several programs for minorities and economically disadvantaged students.

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2C2K Photography // Flickr

#45. Jackson State University

- Location: Jackson, MS
- Students: 5,935
- Acceptance rate: 72%
- Graduation rate: 34%
- Faculty ratio: 17:1
- In-state Tuition: $7,621
- Out-of-state tuition: $18,314
- Six year median earnings: $30,000

In Jackson, Miss., Jackson State University is one of the largest historically black colleges in the country. The school was one of the many politically active campuses in the 1970s, with two protesting students being shot and killed only 11 days after the Kent State shootings.

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Jennifer Williams // Wikimedia Commons

#44. California State University, East Bay

- Location: Hayward, CA
- Students: 11,539
- Acceptance rate: 74%
- Graduation rate: 42%
- Faculty ratio: 27:1
- In-state Tuition: $6,834
- Out-of-state tuition: $18,714
- Six year median earnings: $51,700

Composed of three different campuses, California State University, East Bay is located in Hayward, Oakland, and Concord. The best-known programs in the school are its business program, education department, and music department. The area is politically and demographically blue, resulting in a diverse and politically active campus.

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Jayingram11 // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Georgia State University

- Location: Atlanta, GA
- Students: 19,882
- Acceptance rate: 70%
- Graduation rate: 53%
- Faculty ratio: 23:1
- In-state Tuition: $8,730
- Out-of-state tuition: $27,304
- Six year median earnings: $43,300

Georgia State University has seven campuses in the city of Atlanta and advertises itself as having one of the most diverse student bodies in the country. It is a majority-minority institution, with a plurality of its students being black or African American. Overall, the school has a very small percentage of conservative and Republican students.

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Jrcla2 // Wikimedia Commons

#42. College of William & Mary

- Location: Williamsburg, VA
- Students: 6,199
- Acceptance rate: 36%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Faculty ratio: 11:1
- In-state Tuition: $17,434
- Out-of-state tuition: $40,089
- Six year median earnings: $58,500

The College of William & Mary is significant for being the second-oldest higher education institution in the United States. This public research university has educated several U.S. presidents, politicians, and other significant figures from the developing era of the country. While the students at the school are highly opinionated, politics are engaged in a different form than protest on campus—students opt for intellectual discussions over emotional.

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August Schwerdfeger // Flickr

#41. University of Minnesota Twin Cities

- Location: Minneapolis, MN
- Students: 29,991
- Acceptance rate: 50%
- Graduation rate: 80%
- Faculty ratio: 17:1
- In-state Tuition: $14,488
- Out-of-state tuition: $26,674
- Six year median earnings: $51,900

Considered a “Public Ivy,” the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis and St. Paul is the flagship school of the University of Minnesota system. The Minnesota Student Association is a student government within the campus, advocating for student interests on local, state, and federal levels. Notable alumni include two former Vice Presidents, Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale.

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Steve Cukrov // Shutterstock

#40. State University of New York at Stony Brook

- Location: Stony Brook, NY
- Students: 16,212
- Acceptance rate: 42%
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Faculty ratio: 18:1
- In-state Tuition: $9,257
- Out-of-state tuition: $26,767
- Six year median earnings: $57,600

As part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University is a sea-grant and space-grant public research university. The school has a significant student body population, with three branches much like the United States federal government.

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Kevin Coles // Flickr

#39. Fayetteville State University

- Location: Fayetteville, NC
- Students: 3,905
- Acceptance rate: 68%
- Graduation rate: 33%
- Faculty ratio: 15:1
- In-state Tuition: $5,183
- Out-of-state tuition: $16,791
- Six year median earnings: $31,200

This historically black college in Fayetteville, N.C., has a student body over two-thirds female. The university has a basic liberal arts foundation and specialized professional training for its curriculum.

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mollymccord // Flickr

#38. University of Massachusetts Boston

- Location: Boston, MA
- Students: 9,574
- Acceptance rate: 75%
- Graduation rate: 48%
- Faculty ratio: 17:1
- In-state Tuition: $13,828
- Out-of-state tuition: $32,985
- Six year median earnings: $48,200

The third-largest campus in the University of Massachusetts system is an urban public research facility, with a mission to offer students professional opportunities in the Boston area. The college is very diverse, and teaching is conducted mainly in small classes. Political student organizations such as College Democrats and Young Americans for Liberty are active with chapters at this campus.

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Nove1986 // Wikimedia Commons

#37. University of Colorado Denver

- Location: Denver, CO
- Students: 8,671
- Acceptance rate: 65%
- Graduation rate: 45%
- Faculty ratio: 17:1
- In-state Tuition: $9,107
- Out-of-state tuition: $25,259
- Six year median earnings: $56,400

As the only urban public research university in Colorado, the University of Colorado Denver grants more graduate degrees than any other institution in the state. One such course at the school recently attracted negative attention from conservative outlets, as a professor removed white men from a curriculum focused on American political thought to instead focus on marginalized voices.

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youngryand // Shutterstock

#36. University of Wisconsin

- Location: Madison, WI
- Students: 28,977
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Faculty ratio: 18:1
- In-state Tuition: $10,533
- Out-of-state tuition: $34,783
- Six year median earnings: $56,200

Also known as the University of Wisconsin - Madison, this school is one of the informal “Public Ivies,” with an educational experience comparable to that of an Ivy League school. Amongst the alumni from the university are a number of Nobel laureates and Fortune 500 CEOs. Recently, conservative students have criticized the school and some professors for liberal biases.

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Stephen B. Goodwin // Shutterstock

#35. Virginia State University

- Location: Petersburg, VA
- Students: 3,976
- Acceptance rate: 91%
- Graduation rate: 42%
- Faculty ratio: 15:1
- In-state Tuition: $8,726
- Out-of-state tuition: $19,572
- Six year median earnings: $35,200

Established in 1882, Virginia State University was developed as the nation’s first state-supported four-year university for black Americans. Amongst the school’s student life organizations is a chapter of the NAACP.

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Mapbox // Flickr

#34. Humboldt State University

- Location: Arcata, CA
- Students: 7,270
- Acceptance rate: 82%
- Graduation rate: 47%
- Faculty ratio: 21:1
- In-state Tuition: $7,493
- Out-of-state tuition: $19,373
- Six year median earnings: $36,600

Located in Arcata, Calif., Humboldt State University provides students with a view of the Pacific Ocean; as such, the school has a prominent marine biology program. Progressive students on campus are collaborating to work toward a carbon-free and energy-independent future with a number of different environmental and waste initiatives.

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Tony Webster // Flickr

#33. University of Iowa

- Location: Iowa City, IA
- Students: 21,222
- Acceptance rate: 86%
- Graduation rate: 74%
- Faculty ratio: 16:1
- In-state Tuition: $9,492
- Out-of-state tuition: $31,458
- Six year median earnings: $51,900

The oldest university in the state, the University of Iowa is known for its programs in law, health care, and the fine arts. With a large student body, the school is the host of nearly 500 student organizations. Many students participate in political organizations and student-run media.

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Jeff Auth // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Virginia Commonwealth University

- Location: Richmond, VA
- Students: 20,036
- Acceptance rate: 84%
- Graduation rate: 63%
- Faculty ratio: 18:1
- In-state Tuition: $13,624
- Out-of-state tuition: $33,656
- Six year median earnings: $44,000

With so many financial resources devoted to research at Virginia Commonwealth University, this public research university has faculty from fields like public policy, biotechnology, and health care. This school was the Medical College of Virginia before the Virginia General Assembly merged it with the Richmond Professional Institute in 1917, and the school has expanded since. The campus emphasizes inclusivity, and the school’s mission includes a commitment to research into public health care.

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Felix Mizioznikov // Shutterstock

#31. Miami Dade College

- Location: Miami, FL
- Students: 23,589
- Acceptance rate: 100%
- Graduation rate: 31%
- Faculty ratio: 19:1
- In-state Tuition: $2,838
- Out-of-state tuition: $9,661
- Six year median earnings: $31,100

Miami Dade College is the largest public college in Florida, and the second-largest college or university in the entire country. Several former and current Florida politicians attended Miami Dade College, including former Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, former Miami mayor Manny Diaz, and former Republican Congressman John L. Mica.

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Broadmoor // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Southern University and A&M College

- Location: Baton Rouge, LA
- Students: 4,530
- Acceptance rate: 45%
- Graduation rate: 29%
- Faculty ratio: 24:1
- In-state Tuition: $8,666
- Out-of-state tuition: $18,080
- Six year median earnings: $34,700

The largest historically black college in Louisiana is Southern University and A&M College, a member school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The college has several categories for student organizations, with the political groups including a College Democrats organization.

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CSU Dominguez Hills // Wikimedia Commons

#29. California State University, Dominguez Hills

- Location: Carson, CA
- Students: 10,084
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Graduation rate: 43%
- Faculty ratio: 25:1
- In-state Tuition: $6,837
- Out-of-state tuition: $18,717
- Six year median earnings: $44,700

California State University, Dominguez Hills is one of the most diverse universities in the western United States, with the largest African American percentage in the Cal State system. The school’s vision specifically touts diversity, “sustainable environmental, social, and economic practices,” and “a genuine commitment to justice and social responsibility.”

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EQRoy // Shutterstock

#28. State University of New York at New Paltz

- Location: New Paltz, NY
- Students: 6,235
- Acceptance rate: 44%
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Faculty ratio: 16:1
- In-state Tuition: $7,775
- Out-of-state tuition: $17,625
- Six year median earnings: $45,000

While the SUNY New Paltz is relatively small, the campus has been active throughout its history. After the Kent State shootings in 1970, a protest on campus led to an occupation of the Administration Building; the school also owns a weekly newspaper called the Legislative Gazette that covers the state government. The school’s mission calls for students to become “productive members of their communities and professions and active citizens in a democratic nation and a global society.”

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Gigi Altarejos // Wikimedia Commons

#27. The City College of the City University of New York

- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 10,225
- Acceptance rate: 46%
- Graduation rate: 50%
- Faculty ratio: 14:1
- In-state Tuition: $6,940
- Out-of-state tuition: $14,330
- Six year median earnings: $46,300

The City College of New York is home to several important milestones for American universities, as the first free public institution of higher education in the country. It was also the first university with a student government, the first national fraternity to accept members regardless of race or religion, and the first with a strike or protest—this particular one calling for the racial integration of college dormitories.

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Morgan Riley

#26. University of Mary Washington

- Location: Fredericksburg, VA
- Students: 3,905
- Acceptance rate: 73%
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Faculty ratio: 14:1
- In-state Tuition: $12,128
- Out-of-state tuition: $27,374
- Six year median earnings: $51,400

Named after Mary Ball Washington, mother of George Washington, this university has three colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education. Per its website, the University of Mary Washington aims to have its campus as a “civically, socially, and intellectually engaged community.” It has been named the top college contributing people to the Peace Corps.

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Summum // Wikimedia Commons

#25. California State University, Long Beach

- Location: Long Beach, CA
- Students: 27,507
- Acceptance rate: 28%
- Graduation rate: 69%
- Faculty ratio: 23:1
- In-state Tuition: $6,730
- Out-of-state tuition: $18,610
- Six year median earnings: $48,100

Along with being a large public university, California State University, Long Beach also houses a nationally recognized art museum. It is a research school driven by “student engagement, scholarly and creative achievement, civic participation and global perspectives.” Notable alumni who now work in the arts include director Steven Spielberg and “The X-Files” creator Chris Carter.

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Rschaming // Wikimedia Commons

#24. State University of New York at Purchase

- Location: Purchase, NY
- Students: 3,712
- Acceptance rate: 74%
- Graduation rate: 67%
- Faculty ratio: 15:1
- In-state Tuition: $8,498
- Out-of-state tuition: $18,148
- Six year median earnings: $35,200

Describing themselves as the “eccentric cousin” of the SUNY system, Purchase College has both a rigorous liberal arts and science program and “world-class” conservatory programs in the visual and performing arts. The Purchase Student Government Association is a nonprofit corporation that serves as the student body government. A number of well-known actors like Stanley Tucci, Zoe Kravitz, Constance Wu, and many more are alumni of the school.

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Michael Gordon // Shutterstock

#23. University of California, Los Angeles

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Students: 30,458
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Faculty ratio: 18:1
- In-state Tuition: $13,261
- Out-of-state tuition: $41,275
- Six year median earnings: $60,700

Also known as UCLA, the University of California - Los Angeles is the most-applied-to school in the country. Considered to be one of the “Public Ivies,” UCLA is consistently ranked as one of the top-ranking public universities in the country. Several politicians are amongst the alumni of UCLA, with the campus known for political activism.

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Michael Bales // Shutterstock

#22. University of Washington Tacoma

- Location: Tacoma, WA
- Students: 3,945
- Acceptance rate: 84%
- Graduation rate: 58%
- Faculty ratio: 17:1
- In-state Tuition: $11,046
- Out-of-state tuition: $35,610
- Six year median earnings: $57,700

In downtown Tacoma, the University of Washington Tacoma is an urban-serving university committed to “creating an educated workforce, building strong communities and improving the health of diverse populations.” The student body is touted as diverse, with over 80% of students said to have transferred from community colleges in the area.

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Sundry Photography // Shutterstock

#21. San Jose State University

- Location: San Jose, CA
- Students: 23,097
- Acceptance rate: 67%
- Graduation rate: 57%
- Faculty ratio: 27:1
- In-state Tuition: $7,721
- Out-of-state tuition: $19,601
- Six year median earnings: $56,100

Informally known as “Silicon Valley’s Public University,” San Jose State calls itself an “essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and California.” SJSU has a significant number of Asian American and Mexican American students. Many alumni are famous athletes, with some of those athletes having used their status to advocate for social justice.

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Agnieszka Gaul

#20. University of Michigan

- Location: Ann Arbor, MI
- Students: 28,702
- Acceptance rate: 27%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Faculty ratio: 11:1
- In-state Tuition: $15,558
- Out-of-state tuition: $51,200
- Six year median earnings: $63,400

The University of Michigan is the oldest higher education institution in the state, established before the territory was even a state. The school is probably most visible for its participation in sports, with the Wolverines participating in Division I of the NCAA. The campus is known for spawning the Peace Corps, with several protests and demonstrations occurring during the 1960s and 1970s.

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Roman Babakin // Shutterstock

#19. Temple University

- Location: Philadelphia, PA
- Students: 26,643
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Faculty ratio: 14:1
- In-state Tuition: $16,658
- Out-of-state tuition: $28,418
- Six year median earnings: $50,500

Founded by a Baptist minister in 1884, Temple was incorporated as a university in 1907. Temple is known as one of the largest providers of professional education, particularly for health care fields. Though predominantly a white institution, the university includes black fraternities, sororities, and social events, leading some Temple students to compare aspects of their school to an HBCU.

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eebaaboo // Wikimedia Commons

#18. University of Baltimore

- Location: Baltimore, MD
- Students: 1,716
- Acceptance rate: 81%
- Graduation rate: 33%
- Faculty ratio: 14:1
- In-state Tuition: $8,824
- Out-of-state tuition: $20,704
- Six year median earnings: $58,000

Part of the University System of Maryland, University of Baltimore emphasizes civic engagement, diversity, and inclusion. The school has a number of different student organizations, with most of them centered on different world cultures and engagement in many social issues.

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Soe Lin // Flickr

#17. Massachusetts College of Art & Design

- Location: Boston, MA
- Students: 1,658
- Acceptance rate: 71%
- Graduation rate: 73%
- Faculty ratio: 9:1
- In-state Tuition: $12,700
- Out-of-state tuition: $34,400
- Six year median earnings: $36,200

Abbreviated as MassArt, Massachusetts College of Art & Design is one of the oldest art schools in the country. The college has a small student body and a 9-to-1 faculty-to-student ratio, making for small class sizes. The school made headlines and brought sexual harassment on campuses back into the national conversation when a photography professor abruptly retired after accusations of misconduct.

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Kit Leong // Shutterstock

#16. University of California, Riverside

- Location: Riverside, CA
- Students: 19,719
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Graduation rate: 75%
- Faculty ratio: 22:1
- In-state Tuition: $13,917
- Out-of-state tuition: $41,931
- Six year median earnings: $49,700

The University of California, Riverside is often ranked as one of the most ethnically and economically diverse universities in the country. The school also ranks high in terms of social mobility and was the first public university to offer a gender-neutral housing option. Studies allege that UC Riverside faculty have left-leaning biases and advocate for political activism.

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Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Ramapo College of New Jersey

- Location: Mahwah, NJ
- Students: 4,910
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Graduation rate: 74%
- Faculty ratio: 17:1
- In-state Tuition: $14,080
- Out-of-state tuition: $23,214
- Six year median earnings: $53,200

Billed as New Jersey’s premier public liberal arts college, Ramapo College emphasizes interdisciplinary and experiential learning. The school promotes respect towards the environment, sustainability, and community involvement.

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self // Wikimedia Commons

#14. The Evergreen State College

- Location: Olympia, WA
- Students: 3,330
- Acceptance rate: 96%
- Graduation rate: 57%
- Faculty ratio: 21:1
- In-state Tuition: $7,591
- Out-of-state tuition: $25,051
- Six year median earnings: $33,200

The Evergreen State College in Washington state is unique in providing a non-traditional curriculum, allowing undergraduates to design their own paths of study. Students are part of “interdisciplinary academic programs” instead of traditional classes, with faculty providing narrative evaluations. Every April, minority students and faculty members protest and remove themselves from campus to raise awareness of racial issues.

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Katherine Welles // Shutterstock

#13. University of Vermont

- Location: Burlington, VT
- Students: 10,395
- Acceptance rate: 67%
- Graduation rate: 75%
- Faculty ratio: 16:1
- In-state Tuition: $15,936
- Out-of-state tuition: $39,120
- Six year median earnings: $47,300

Founded in 1791, it should come as little surprise that the University of Vermont is one of the oldest universities in the United States. In the present day, the student center was the first to receive a LEED Gold certification. Sustainability is one of the campus’s main initiatives, and amongst student activities, the school’s debate program is one of the best in the world.

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quiggyt4 // Shutterstock

#12. Hunter College

- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 12,612
- Acceptance rate: 40%
- Graduation rate: 52%
- Faculty ratio: 12:1
- In-state Tuition: $6,982
- Out-of-state tuition: $14,372
- Six year median earnings: $47,200

Originally founded as a women’s college in 1870, Hunter College began accepting men in 1946. During the late 1960s, minorities rallied to have their history and culture added to the school’s curriculum.

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UCSB Library // Flickr

#11. University of California, Santa Barbara

- Location: Santa Barbara, CA
- Students: 21,777
- Acceptance rate: 33%
- Graduation rate: 81%
- Faculty ratio: 18:1
- In-state Tuition: $14,445
- Out-of-state tuition: $42,199
- Six year median earnings: $55,300

UC Santa Barbara (originally founded as the Anna Blake School) was established as an independent teachers’ college before being incorporated into the University of California in 1944. The campus is politically active, with student organizations representing all political parties. For the 2008 United States elections, the school won a national competition for student voter registration and registered almost half of the student body.

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Nick Kelly/Faithlife Corporation // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Western Washington University

- Location: Bellingham, WA
- Students: 13,728
- Acceptance rate: 85%
- Graduation rate: 69%
- Faculty ratio: 18:1
- In-state Tuition: $8,183
- Out-of-state tuition: $22,695
- Six year median earnings: $45,800

Initially known as Northwest Normal School for teachers, what is now known as Western Washington University went through many name changes and status changes throughout its history. Within the school is the Huxley College of the Environment, which was the nation’s first environmental science college. The student government is known as the Associated Students of Western Washington University (ASWWU).

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Professorcornbread // Wikimedia Commons

#9. John Jay College of Criminal Justice

- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 10,276
- Acceptance rate: 39%
- Graduation rate: 47%
- Faculty ratio: 18:1
- In-state Tuition: $7,070
- Out-of-state tuition: $14,460
- Six year median earnings: $44,900

Named after the first chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice was intended to be the only liberal arts college with a focus on criminal justice and forensics. In the wake of President Richard Nixon’s Cambodian Campaign in 1970, internal political debates ensued on whether to close the campus in protest. Several law enforcement individuals and local politicians are amongst the alumni of John Jay.

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cpaulfell // Shutterstock

#8. University of Washington

- Location: Seattle, WA
- Students: 28,759
- Acceptance rate: 46%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Faculty ratio: 19:1
- In-state Tuition: $11,207
- Out-of-state tuition: $36,587
- Six year median earnings: $57,700

Founded shortly after the founding of Seattle, the University of Washington was established to aid economic development in the city. Located in a tech haven, the school has had ties and collaborations with companies such as Amazon, Nintendo of America, Boeing, and especially Microsoft. The student body has historically been involved in political activism, from labor strikes in the early 20th century to the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter movements of the present day.

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Webbi1987 // Wikimedia Commons

#7. San Francisco State University

- Location: San Francisco, CA
- Students: 22,263
- Acceptance rate: 70%
- Graduation rate: 54%
- Faculty ratio: 23:1
- In-state Tuition: $7,254
- Out-of-state tuition: $19,134
- Six year median earnings: $49,200

The Third World Liberation Front, a coalition of diverse students from different ethnic backgrounds, went on strike in protest of the lack of diversity at Californian institutions, including the now-San Francisco State University. Today, the college is ranked as one of the most diverse universities in the United States, with over half the student body represented by minority students. Its mission in the present day has an emphasis on an “unwavering commitment to social justice.”

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Torgado // Shutterstock

#6. University of Oregon

- Location: Eugene, OR
- Students: 17,801
- Acceptance rate: 83%
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Faculty ratio: 17:1
- In-state Tuition: $11,571
- Out-of-state tuition: $34,611
- Six year median earnings: $44,800

With a motto of “mens agitat molem” (the mind moves the mass), the University of Oregon is the state’s flagship research university. Recently, there has been a push for more sustainable buildings on campus. Alumni include authors Ken Kesey (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) and Chuck Palahniuk (“Fight Club”).

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Matthew Corley // Shutterstock

#5. University of California, Santa Cruz

- Location: Santa Cruz, CA
- Students: 17,082
- Acceptance rate: 51%
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Faculty ratio: 19:1
- In-state Tuition: $14,020
- Out-of-state tuition: $42,034
- Six year median earnings: $46,900

UC Santa Cruz began as an example of progressive, cross-disciplinary undergraduate education and has since evolved into a research university. Still, throughout its history, the student body has been known for its political activism. Students are also known for being environmentally aware and for their conservation efforts.

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#4. New College of Florida

- Location: Sarasota, FL
- Students: 835
- Acceptance rate: 69%
- Graduation rate: 65%
- Faculty ratio: 10:1
- In-state Tuition: $6,916
- Out-of-state tuition: $29,944
- Six year median earnings: National$33,028

Originally a part of the University of South Florida, the current-day New College of Florida became autonomous in 2001. Students are responsible for their own education tracks, with faculty providing narrative evaluations. The student government, the New College Student Alliance, is structured much like federal, state, and local governments, but maintains a youthful whimsy in its constitution.

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Rosa Say // Flickr

#3. Portland State University

- Location: Portland, OR
- Students: 13,990
- Acceptance rate: 92%
- Graduation rate: 49%
- Faculty ratio: 20:1
- In-state Tuition: $8,783
- Out-of-state tuition: $26,130
- Six year median earnings: $44,700

Founded as an educational institution for World War II veterans, Portland State University eventually gained its status as a university in 1969. At the beginning of the 21st century, the school began adding degrees involving black history and buildings meant to support indigenous studies.

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Eden/Janine/Jim // Flickr

#2. Fashion Institute of Technology

- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 7,210
- Acceptance rate: 47%
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Faculty ratio: 15:1
- In-state Tuition: $5,483
- Out-of-state tuition: $14,863
- Six year median earnings: $48,900

As part of the State University of New York system, the Fashion Institute of Technology focuses on art, business, communication, and design regarding the fashion industry. Alumni include Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Joel Schumacher.

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#1. University of California, Berkeley

- Location: Berkeley, CA
- Students: 29,351
- Acceptance rate: 17%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Faculty ratio: 18:1
- In-state Tuition: $14,170
- Out-of-state tuition: $42,184
- Six year median earnings: $64,700

UC Berkeley has found itself in the public eye during major parts of American history; for example, Berkeley physicist J. R. Oppenheimer led the Manhattan Project for the first atomic bomb. During the 1960s, however, Berkeley was at the center of the Free Speech Movement and the movement against the Vietnam War. The school is well-known nationwide for having a disproportionate number of liberals compared to conservatives.

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