This is America’s Most Liberal College

Within the ongoing U.S. culture war, one of the most prominent battlegrounds is the world of higher education. Conservatives argue that college campuses are saturated with liberal biases, and indeed, studies consistently reveal a higher proportion of professors self-identifying as either moderate or liberal.

Part of this phenomenon can be attributed to the tendency for individuals with college and postgraduate degrees to lean towards liberal viewpoints. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 54% of postgraduate degree holders identify as “consistently” or “mostly” liberal, in contrast to just 26% of respondents with a high school diploma or lower level of education. However, it’s essential to recognize that not all higher-learning institutions adhere to a liberal ideology, with variations in the perceived degree of liberalism among them.

To find the 25 most liberal colleges in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2023 Most Liberal Colleges in America from education data clearinghouse Niche. Niche’s ranking is based on student reviews of the political leanings of the campus community, mostly consisting of self-reported personal political leaning, but also campus political preferences. 

When it comes to the students, political leanings at university and college campuses may also be a matter of their ages. “We can say, with a great deal of confidence, that people get more conservative when they get older — and a lot more,” Sam Peltzman, an economics professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business who researched the relationship between age and political beliefs, said in an interview published by the Chicago Booth Review in 2020.

This may help to explain why the 25 most liberal universities and colleges in the country tend to have larger student populations compared to the 25 most conservative institutions. The median full-time enrollment at these conservative institutions was about 3,000 in the fall of 2021, compared to nearly 11,000 at their liberal counterparts.

Other factors that may make the most liberal universities and colleges more popular than conservative ones is that liberal schools are more likely to be public, with lower tuition costs. The emphasis on a Christian-focused education at many of the most conservative institutions can keep nonreligious students or students of other faiths from applying, even if they share conservative views.

Among the 25 most liberal universities and colleges, eight are located in New York and five are based in California. The acceptance rates in the fall of 2021 ranged from 7% at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, to 100% at the San Francisco-based Academy of Art University. SAT scores for students accepted at these schools in the fall of 2021 was between 800 at California State University-East Bay in Hayward, California, and 1470 at Northwestern. The highest SAT score is 1600. (These are the hardest colleges to get into.)

Similarly, the out-of-pocket cost to attend these institutions in the 2020-2021 school year had a wide range, from as little as $4,856 at CUNY Hunter College to as much as nearly $51,000 at New York University. 

The top two most popular undergraduate majors at these top 25 liberal universities and colleges were business and social sciences. (These are the 25 highest paying college majors.)

Here are the most liberal colleges in America.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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