Special Report

The 20 Most Conservative Colleges in America

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A recent Pew survey found that two-thirds of Democrats or those who lean left feel that colleges and universities have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country. On the other side of the spectrum, 59% of Republicans or those who lean right say higher education is negatively affecting the country.

The vast majority, 79%, of conservatives surveyed feel that professors are bringing their political and social views into the classroom, making it the most common complaint those on the right have with colleges and universities. This claim was echoed by former President Donald Trump during his term, and following his election in 2016, the share of Republicans who felt positively about the effects of higher education dropped — from 54% in 2015 to 36% in 2017. 

Despite the relative dislike for colleges among Republicans, there are still dozens of higher learning institutions in America in which the vast majority of students consider themselves to be conservative.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed a survey of college campuses by school data clearinghouse Niche to determine the most conservative colleges in America.

Regardless of any ideological objections to higher education, few would argue that going to college is a good investment for those who can afford it. College-educated workers tend to earn much higher wages than those without a degree. Students of most schools on this list have relatively high median annual wages a decade after first entering the institution. This may be due in part to the fact that the most common majors at the majority of schools on this list are either medical or business focused programs. Workers with degrees in these fields typically earn high wages. These are the college majors that pay off the most.

Students often choose to go to schools that reflect their values and beliefs. Most colleges on this list are private, religious institutions. While these schools do offer certain potential advantages that large public schools do not, they tend to be much more expensive. This is the most expensive college in every state.

Click here to see the 20 most conservative colleges in America.
Click here to see our detailed methodology.

Source: Ianmccor / Wikimedia Commons

20. North Greenville University
> Location: Tigerville, SC
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $35,839
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $34,400
> Most popular undergrad major: Liberal arts and sciences, general studies and humanities

North Greenville University is a private liberal arts school located in Tigerville in the northwestern part of South Carolina. According to a Niche survey of the school’s students, 60% feel that the political beliefs of the campus as a whole are either conservative or very conservative. Just 15% feel the campus politics are moderate, and 24% are unsure.

Like nearly every other school on this list, North Greenville University is religiously affiliated with a Christian church — in this case, with the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

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19. Samford University
> Location: Birmingham, AL
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $46,474
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $49,900
> Most popular undergrad major: Registered nursing, nursing administration, nursing research and clinical nursing

At Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, 62% of students associate themselves with the Republican Party, according to a Niche survey of students. Comparatively, just 5% associate with the Democratic Party, 19% are independent, and 14% said they did not care about politics.

Samford University students tend to have relatively high earnings after leaving the college. The median earnings of students in the workforce no longer enrolled in classes 10 years after first entering Samford was $49,900 — one of the higher medians among schools and the second highest earnings among the schools on this list.

Source: Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

18. LeTourneau University
> Location: Longview, TX
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $42,509
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $48,200
> Most popular undergrad major: Business administration, management and operations

LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, ranks as one of the most conservative colleges in America. According to a Niche student survey, 70% of students affiliate themselves with the Republican Party, compared to just 7% who align with the Democratic Party.

The university has produced a number of Republican politicians, including Patricia Harless, who served in the Texas House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017, former Texas gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, and Vicki Strong, who has served in the Vermont House of Representatives since 2011.

Source: The University of Tennessee at Martin

17. The University of Tennessee-Martin
> Location: Martin, TN
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $19,857
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $36,200
> Most popular undergrad major: Agriculture

The University of Tennessee-Martin is one of just a handful of public universities to rank among the most conservative in the country. Just 15% of UT-Martin students feel the overall political leanings of the campus are liberal, and just 13% feel it is moderate.

Public schools tend to be much less expensive than private colleges, and UT-Martin is no exception. It is one of just six schools on this list with average annual costs of attendance under $20,000.

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16. Franciscan University of Steubenville
> Location: Steubenville, OH
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $37,257
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $37,700
> Most popular undergrad major: Theological and ministerial studies

Franciscan University of Steubenville is a private Catholic university in Ohio, just across the Ohio River from West Virginia. There is little doubt among Franciscan University of Steubenville students that the campus leans to the right. In a Niche survey, 44% of respondents said the political beliefs on campus were conservative, and an additional 53% said they were very conservative. Just 2% said the beliefs on campus were moderate.

Source: Courtesy of Maranatha Baptist University via Facebook

15. Maranatha Baptist University
> Location: Watertown, WI
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $25,217
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $33,000
> Most popular undergrad major: Multi-/interdisciplinary studies, general

Maranatha Baptist University is a private, liberal arts college located about 40 miles west of Milwaukee in Watertown, Wisconsin. According to the school, “All of our courses are “taught from a biblical worldview by our passionate Christian faculty.” According to a Niche survey, all respondents at the school felt the campus’ political beliefs were either conservative or very conservative. The school’s student body is 86% white.

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14. Grove City College
> Location: Grove City, PA
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: N/A
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: N/A
> Most popular undergrad major: Mechanical engineering

Grove City College is a private Christian college located about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh. The institution touts itself as “a beacon of laissez-faire economic freedom,” and even took a legal dispute related to its ideology all the way up to the Supreme Court in the 1980s. In the case, the federal government threatened to withdraw student financial aid if GCC did not sign a form affirming its compliance with anti gender discrimination laws. GCC said the form “represented an attempt by the government to take control of private education.” After losing the case, GCC withdrew from the federal program.

According to the Niche survey, more than 90% of GCC students feel that the political beliefs of the campus as a whole are either conservative or very conservative. Over 91% of Grove City College students identify as white alone.

Source: TheSource2001 / Wikimedia Commons

13. Taylor University
> Location: Upland, IN
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $45,229
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $38,000
> Most popular undergrad major: Psychology, general

Taylor University is a private, Christian college in Upland, Indiana, about 60 miles northeast of Indianapolis. The majority of students agree the school’s culture is right-leaning — 75% feel the campus beliefs are either conservative or very conservative, compared to just 10% who feel it is liberal, per a Niche survey.

Taylor University has produced several Republican politicians, including Rep. Jackie Walorski from Indiana’s 2nd District, Rep. Tim Walberg from Michigan’s 7th District, and Stephen Johnson, who served as EPA Administrator under former President George W. Bush.

Source: Ccasey11 / Wikimedia Commons

12. Palm Beach Atlantic University
> Location: West Palm Beach, FL
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $45,037
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $40,600
> Most popular undergrad major: Psychology, general

At private Christian college Palm Beach Atlantic University, 72% of students feel the overall campus beliefs are either conservative or very conservative, compared to 4% who feel it is either liberal or very liberal, per a Niche survey.

Palm Beach Atlantic University has one of the highest admission rates of any school on this list as well as in the nation, as it admits more than 95% of applicants.

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11. University of North Georgia
> Location: Dahlonega, GA
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $15,666
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $41,900
> Most popular undergrad major: Business administration, management and operations

The University of North Georgia is one of the newer schools on this list. It was formed in 2013, when North Georgia College & State University and Gainesville State College were merged. UNG is a military school, and students must participate in its Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

Surveys have indicated that military members have tended to lean more conservative in recent years. A 2018 Military Times poll found that active duty readers were more than twice as likely to support the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Though UNG students are not required to serve in the armed forces, they tend to have a similar conservative preference, with students in the Niche poll favoring the Republican Party over the Democratic Party by a 48%-17% margin.

Source: Thecoldmidwest / Wikimedia Commons

10. University of Wyoming
> Location: Laramie, WY
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $19,777
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $47,300
> Most popular undergrad major: Registered nursing, nursing administration, nursing research and clinical nursing

The University of Wyoming is one of just a handful of public schools to rank among the most conservative in the country. Students are more than twice as likely to associate themselves with the Republican Party than the Democratic party, according to a Niche survey. Students are also more likely to be independent than Democratic.

The University of Wyoming is one of three schools on this list in which some kind of nursing major is the most popular degree field. It is also one of the least expensive schools to rank as the most conservative, with an average annual attendance cost under $20,000.

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9. Utah State University
> Location: Logan, UT
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $18,531
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $43,200
> Most popular undergrad major: Economics

Utah State University is Utah’s only public land grant college, and one of just a handful of public schools on this list. According to a Niche survey, 44% of students associate themselves with the Republican Party. Students are more likely to identify as an independent (23%) or say they are not interested in politics (17%) than they are to identify as a Democrat (13%).

There are a number of Republican politicians who earned degrees from Utah State, including former Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, and Paula Hawkins, who became the first woman to represent a Southern state in the senate after winning her election in Florida in 1980.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

8. Lee University
> Location: Cleveland, TN
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $30,095
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $34,200
> Most popular undergrad major: Pastoral counseling and specialized ministries

Lee University is located just northeast of Chattanooga in Tennessee. Initially known as Bible Training School, Lee College has embraced the Evangelical community and is one of many schools on this list with strong Christian ties.

According to a Niche survey of students at Lee University, 62% feel the campus’s political beliefs as a whole are either conservative or very conservative, compared to just 1% who feel the campus is progressive.

Source: bigcitysigns / Flickr

7. Biola University
> Location: La Mirada, CA
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $53,611
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $44,500
> Most popular undergrad major: Business administration, management and operations

At Biola University, in La Mirada, California, 69% of students feel the political beliefs of the campus are either conservative or very conservative. Just 2% feel the campus is liberal. Biola University is the only school to rank among the 20 most conservative colleges in America in which less than half of the student population identifies as white alone. The school’s student body is made up of 22% Hispanic students and 18% Asian students.

With an average annual cost of attendance exceeding $53,000, Biola University is the most expensive college on this list, and one of the pricier colleges in the nation.

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6. Bob Jones University
> Location: Greenville, SC
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $25,287
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: N/A
> Most popular undergrad major: Business administration, management and operations

Bob Jones University students are among the most likely college attendees to identify as Republican or conservative — 70% identify as Republicans, and 89% of students describe the campus political orientation as either conservative or very conservative, according to a Niche survey. Just 2% feel it is liberal.

Bob Jones University is a private Christian college located in Greenville, South Carolina. On-campus students are required to attend chapel or other faith-based group meetings Monday through Friday. The school has drawn criticism in the past for some of its stances on student behavior. For instance, the school dropped its ban on interracial dating only in 2000.

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5. Colorado Christian University
> Location: Lakewood, CO
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $43,486
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $39,300
> Most popular undergrad major: Business administration, management and operations

Colorado Christian University is an interdenominational Christan college located in Lakewood, just outside of Denver.

At the university, 54% of students associate themselves with the Republican Party, while just 9% associate with the Democratic Party, according to a Niche survey. The survey also found that 55% of respondents said the political beliefs of the campus as a whole were either conservative or very conservative, while just 3% said the campus was either liberal or very liberal.

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4. Brigham Young University-Provo
> Location: Provo, UT
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $18,136
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $59,700
> Most popular undergrad major: Physiology, pathology and related sciences

Brigham Young University-Provo, known as BYU, is a large private college that is “founded, supported, and guided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” making it one of a large number of religiously affiliated schools on this list.

BYU students tend to be financially well-off after graduating, as a student who is working and not enrolled in college 10 years after entering BYU has a median annual income of nearly $60,000.

3. Cedarville University
> Location: Cedarville, OH
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $38,915
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $41,300
> Most popular undergrad major: Registered nursing, nursing administration, nursing research and clinical nursing

Cedarville University is a private Christian college located in Cedarville, Ohio, just east of Dayton. When it was first established in 1887, it was affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, but it has since changed its religious affiliation to Baptist. The school’s students are among the most likely to be Repulican or conservative-leaning in the country. Roughly 85% of the student body identifies as white alone.

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2. Liberty University
> Location: Lynchburg, VA
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $38,076
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $36,700
> Most popular undergrad major: Business administration, management and operations

Liberty University was founded in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College by pastor Jerry Falwell Sr. Among the schools on this list, Liberty University is one of the most selective, admitting just over half of applicants.

The school has been active in politics, and has been described by the Washington Post as a “pilgrimage site for GOP candidates” and a “bastion of the Christian right.” Former Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., son of the school’s founder, was a staunch supporter of Donald Trump during his 2016 election campaign.

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1. Brigham Young University-Idaho
> Location: Rexburg, ID
> Avg. annual cost of attendance: $12,223
> Typical earnings 10 yrs. after enrollment: $42,700
> Most popular undergrad major: Business administration, management and operations

BYU Idaho is the most conservative college in America, according to a Niche survey of students about their political leanings, as well as the perceived leanings of their peers. Among respondents, 53% associated with the Republican party, 23% said they were independent, and just 4% associated with the Deomcratic Party. The rest were either non-affiliated or felt affiliated with another party not mentioned.

Like many other colleges on this list, BYU Idaho is religiously affiliated, in this case with the Church of Latter Day Saints. It is one of three BYU campuses, along with the flagship school in Provo, Utah and BYU, Hawaii.

Methodology

To determine the most conservative colleges in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from education data clearinghouse Niche’s “2021 Most Conservative Colleges in America” list. Niche’s ranking is based on student surveys about both personal political leanings as well as opinions about the political leanings of other students.

Data on undergraduate enrollment came from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and is for fall 2019. Data on the median earnings of individuals who entered university in the 2004-05 academic year and were employed 10 years later also came from IPEDS as did data on the average annual cost of attendance for the 2017-18 school year. Data on the popularity of undergraduate majors is based on IPEDS data on the number of federal loan borrowers who graduated with a degree in that major in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.

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