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.
You may also like: Colleges giving the most financial aid to low-income students
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.”
#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.
You may also like: Best value public colleges in America
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
You may also like: 50 jobs expected to shrink the most2018 All rights reserved.