Education

This Is the Most Liberal College in America: The Top 25 Ranked

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While your political stance shouldn’t be the only reason you choose a college, choosing the right one could be an important determining factor for those more politically active. After all, you don’t want to go to a school that will threaten to hold your degrees if you join a protest, like students who joined in on pro-Palestinian protests in 2024. If you’re someone on the left side, you’ll want to go to a more liberal college.

In order to identify 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 assessments of the political leanings within the campus community, primarily consisting of self-reported personal political leanings, along with campus political preferences. 

Data on acceptance rate in fall 2021 and net price in the 2020-2021 academic year came from Niche, based on the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Net price refers to the total cost of attendance (sum of tuition, fees, books and supplies, room and board, and other expenses) minus any aid (federal, state/local, institutional grant, and scholarship). Data on median earnings 10 years after entry and are for the 2019-2020 academic year, the degree most awarded for undergraduates as a first major in 2020-2021, and enrollment of full-time undergraduate students in fall 2021 also came from IPEDS.

Here are the most liberal colleges in America:

Why This Matters

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It’s important to know which schools line up with your ideals so you don’t waste all your hard-earned money on loans at a college that doesn’t match your needs. In the continuous U.S. culture war, higher education continues to be a complicated battleground. Conservatives assert that liberal viewpoints dominate college campuses, a claim backed by studies consistently showing a higher number of professors and students identifying as either moderate or liberal.

25. Northeastern University

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  • Located in: Boston, MA
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 18%
  • Graduation rate: 89%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Business management marketing and related support services

Northeastern University in Boston has an incredibly low acceptance rate of 18 percent, at least in 2021. The school also doesn’t take in many students, with around 15,711 enrollments per year. The average cost of going to this college is $38,927 after aid per year, but students are said to have median earnings of $88,842 after ten years after starting school.

24. University of Houston-Downtown

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  • Located in: Houston, TX
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 95%
  • Graduation rate: 46%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Business management marketing and related support services

In 2021, the University of Houston-Downtown was the 24th most liberal college in the United States. On the opposite end of the spectrum from the last college, Houston has a 95 percent acceptance rate, though still a low number of students around 6,584 undergrad individuals.  It costs roughly $13,460 a year to attend, and students have a median earning of $52,929 around 10 years after starting college.

23. CUNY New York City College of Technology

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  • Located in: Brooklyn, NY
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 82%
  • Graduation rate: 23%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Engineering/engineering-related technologies/technicians

CUNY New York City College of Technology is pretty cheap to attend. It only costs $5,457 on average a year, and students who attend have a median earnings of $47,242 after 10 years. There are roughly 8,969 students who attend, with an acceptance rate of about 82 percent.

22. Pace University

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  • Located in: New York, NY
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 88%
  • Graduation rate: 57%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Business management marketing and related support services

Pace University in New York has an average of 7,483 full-time students and an acceptance rate of 88 percent. It costs about $30,632 a year to attend and after 10 years, the median earnings is $69,137.

21. CUNY Hunter College

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  • Located in: New York, NY
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 46%
  • Graduation rate: 57%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Psychology

Hunter College in New York is a public university that only costs $4,586 annually to attend. Students who went to the college reported a median income of $58,822 after about 10 years. There are about 13,700 students with an acceptance rate of 46 percent.

20. St. John Fisher University

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  • Located in: Rochester, NY
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 71%
  • Graduation rate: 81%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Health professions and related programs

In 2021, it cost $27,300 a year to go to St. John Fisher University. The median earnings after 10 years were reported to be $58,703. It’s a small school, only offering space to about 2,500 undergrad students, but the acceptance rate is rather high at 73 percent.

19. Central Connecticut State University

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  • Located in: New Britain, CT
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 75%
  • Graduation rate: 57%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Business management marketing and related support services

Central Connecticut State University offers classes for an average of $14,425 per year. After 10 years, the median earning is $56,799. There are roughly 6,000 undergrad students at any given time, and the school has an acceptance rate of 75 percent.

18. Ramapo College of New Jersey

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  • Located in: Mahwah, NJ
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 70%
  • Graduation rate: 71%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Business management marketing and related support services

Ramapo College of New Jersey is a public liberal arts college. They have an acceptance rate of 70 percent, and roughly 4,460 undergrad students at any given time. Their tuition is $12,251 on average, and after 10 years, the median income of students who attended is $62, 810.

17. University at Albany, SUNY

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  • Located in: Albany, NY
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 68%
  • Graduation rate: 63%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Social sciences

The State University of New York at Albany, or SUNY is a liberal college with a 68 percent acceptance rate and roughly 11,792 undergrad students. Tuition is roughly $17,350 a year and median earnings after 10 years is $63,760.

16. Northwestern University

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  • Located in: Evanston, IL
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 7%
  • Graduation rate: 94%
  • Most common undergrad degree awarded, 1st major, 2020-2021: Communication journalism and related programs

Northwestern University is a private research university, which is why the acceptance rate is so low at seven percent. There are about 8,400 undergrad students enrolled at any given time. The average annual price is a little high, $29,999, but students going to college there have a higher chance to make a better median income after 10 years, about $85,800.

15. California State University-East Bay

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  • Located in: Hayward, CA
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 82%
  • Graduation rate: 79%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Business management marketing and related support services

This is a public university that covers a broad range of areas of study. The acceptance rate is pretty high, about 82 percent as of 2021, and there are usually about 9,500 students enrolled in an undergraduate program. It costs an average of $12,631 per year, with a median earning after 10 years of $64,188.

14. West Chester University of Pennsylvania

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  • Located in: West Chester, PA
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 89%
  • Graduation rate: 73%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Business management marketing and related support services

West Chester University in Pennsylvania is a public university with an acceptance rate of 89 percent. The school usually has upwards of 12,000 undergraduate students enrolled full-time in any given year. per year, the tuition is $14,133 on average. The median earnings 10 years down the road is $56,602.

13. Adelphi University

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  • Located in: Garden City, NY
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 78%
  • Graduation rate: 72%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Health professions and related programs

At Adelphi University, you can expect an average year to cost $28,261. However, the median earnings after 10 years is pretty high, at $70,000. The acceptance rate at this college is about 78 percent, and there are around 5,000 undergraduate students enrolled full-time at any given moment.

12. Stony Brook University, SUNY

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  • Located in: Stony Brook, NY
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 48%
  • Graduation rate: 76%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Health professions and related programs

Stony Brook University is a public university dedicated to research. The acceptance rate is rather low, at 48 percent, but that’s because many students apply. Even with the low acceptance rate, there are over 16,500 students. It costs about $16,445 a year to attend Stony Brook, with a potential median earnings of $70,686.

11. University of Oregon

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  • Located in: Eugene, OR
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 93%
  • Graduation rate: 74%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Social sciences

The University of Oregon accepts almost anyone who applies to their college. There are about 17,100 full-time undergraduate students at any given time. It costs an average of $18,556 a year to attend, with a median earning of $57,157 after 10 years.

10. New York University

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  • Located in: New York, NY
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 13%
  • Graduation rate: 85%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Visual and performing arts

New York University is a private university dedicated to research, because of this, their acceptance is rather low at 13 percent, but it’s a big college with over 12,500 full-time undergraduates. The cost, though is steep at $50,991 a year on average to attend. The median earnings after 10 years is $79,812.

9. University of California-Riverside

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  • Located in: Riverside, CA
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 65%
  • Graduation rate: 76%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Social sciences

The University of California, Riverside is a public college dedicated to research and is one of 10 connected universities across the state. The average cost per year is $13,502, and the median earnings after 10 years is $63,645. The acceptance rate is somewhat low at 65 percent, with 22,000 students or so enrolled in an undergraduate plan full-time.

8. University of Washington

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  • Located in: Seattle, WA
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 53%
  • Graduation rate: 83%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Social sciences

The University of Washington in Seattle has a low acceptance rate of 53 percent. There are nearly 30,000 full-time college students enrolled at any given time. The average cost to attend is rather cheap at $8,701 a year on average. Those who attended the school report median earnings after 10 years to be around $74,063.

7. Boston University

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  • Located in: Boston, MA
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 19%
  • Graduation rate:
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Business management marketing and related support services

Boston University is another private research university with a low acceptance rate of about 19 percent. It’s a pretty decent-sized college, with 17,500 undergraduate students enrolled. The cost isn’t terribly high, around $25,800 a year. After 10 years, the median earnings are $80,600.

6. San Jose State University

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  • Located in: San Jose, CA
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 84%
  • Graduation rate: 64%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Business management marketing and related support services

San Jose University has an acceptance rate of 84 percent, and around 23,000 students enrolled in undergraduate programs. It costs an average of $14,600 a year to attend. After 10 years, graduated students reported their median earnings to be $72,635.

5. Northeastern Illinois University

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  • Located in: Chicago, IL
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 62%
  • Graduation rate: 62%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Business management marketing and related support services

Northeastern Illinois University is a small school, with only 2,600 students enrolled in an undergraduate program at any given moment. This is why the acceptance rate is only around 62 percent. Tuition is fairly affordable, with an average of $14,133. After 10 years, the median earnings for people who attended this college is about $50,312.

4. University of Vermont

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  • Located in: Burlington, VT
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 64%
  • Graduation rate: 76%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Biological and biomedical sciences

The University of Vermont is considered a flagship public research university. The average cost of a year of attendance is $19,873. After 10 years, the median earnings equal $62,778. The acceptance rate is somewhat low at 60 percent, with around 11,000 students enrolled in an undergraduate program.

3. Academy of Art University

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  • Located in: San Francisco, CA
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 100%
  • Graduation rate: 7%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Visual and performing arts

This is not a school for the average student. It’s a for-profit private college that accepts any student who applies. Unfortunately, the graduation rate in four years is only 7 percent. There are about 2,700 students enrolled in the undergraduate program every year, and many of them take much longer to graduate than four years, or they drop out. The tuition is high as well, about $32,593, and the median earnings after 10 years isn’t all that high either, at $39,739.

2. University of California-Santa Cruz

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  • Located in: Santa Cruz, CA
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 59%
  • Graduation rate: 75%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Biological and biomedical sciences

University of California-Santa Cruz is a research university with a heavy focus on undergraduate research. There are 17,000 or so students enrolled in undergraduate programs, and they have an acceptance rate of 59 percent. It costs an average of $19,615 a year to attend, and the median income after 10 years is $64,166.

1. American University

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  • Located in: Washington, DC
  • Acceptance rate as of fall 2021: 64%
  • Graduation rate: 79%
  • Most common undergrad degree in 2021: Social sciences

American University is a private and federally chartered research university in Washington D.C. The average cost per year to attend is $28,622 and the median earnings after 10 years is $75,354. The acceptance rate is 64 percent, and the enrollment of undergraduate students was a little over 8,000 in 2021.

 

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