25 Most Liberal Colleges in the U.S. in 2024

October 13, 2023

most liberal colleges

If you are a politically active student, then it makes sense to select a college that aligns with your views. Even if you do not consider yourself politically-minded, you still might consider a school whose core values mirror yours. As a matter of fact, this choice could enhance your overall college experience. For example, if you lean to the left politically, then you might be interested in applying to liberal colleges.

One benefit of choosing a school with similar political leanings is that you can find friends with shared values. Liberal schools tend to attract students with similar ideals. Additionally, student clubs and organizations may be focused on current political and social issues for which you advocate. In this case, getting involved on campus can be easier and even more enjoyable.

If, contrarily, you are looking for the 25 Most Conservative Colleges click here.

Characteristics of the Most Liberal Colleges

Geographically, most liberal colleges are located on either the east or west coast. Located near mountains or the ocean, their campuses can give way to beautiful scenery.

In general, liberal schools focus on similar values. These values include emphasis on: diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and social mobility. Students at liberal colleges may also be interested in social activism for progressive causes, like LGBTQ+ rights and universal healthcare.

In some cases, professors may be more hands-off and let students guide class sessions. In this instance, the professor’s role is to be more of a mediator. Surveys have shown that, generally, professors at liberal colleges tend to be left-leaning themselves. This way, you will receive an education that aligns with your values.

If attending a liberal-leaning college is important to you, but you aren’t sure where to start looking, then you’re in luck! Below, we have assembled a list of the most liberal colleges in America.

For the purposes of this article, “most liberal colleges” will account for the general student population’s political leanings, university mission statements, and general atmosphere of the campus.

25 Most Liberal Colleges in 2024

1) American University

  • Acceptance Rate: 41%

Located in Washington, DC, American University is one of the well-known liberal schools. Diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing, and community service are pillars of student life on the AU campus. As well, AU helps contribute positively to fighting climate change. According to their website, they are one of the first carbon-neutral universities in the country.

2) University of California-Santa Cruz

  • Acceptance Rate: 47%

According to the Women’s Power Gap Initiative, UC-Santa Cruz tops the list for racial and gender diversity in leadership. A large campus with over 17,000 undergraduates, UC Santa Cruz “leads at the intersection of innovation, social justice, and sustainability.” With emphasis on the environment, diversity, and research, this university was ranked #2 in the nation for public universities “making an impact.”

3) New York University

  • Acceptance Rate: 12%

Located in New York City, NYU is one of the most liberal colleges in the county. With a focus on reducing greenhouse emissions by 50% in 2025, NYU regularly updates their Climate Action Plans. With an emphasis on sustainability and global leadership and outreach, NYU has established themselves as a university intent on meeting “humanity’s challenges.”

4) University of Vermont

  • Acceptance Rate: 60%

According to their mission statement, University of Vermont intends to be one of the nation’s premier schools “with a comprehensive commitment to a liberal arts education.” Located in Burlington, Vermont, this university is focused on research, sustainability, and fostering diversity. Some of the most common undergraduate degrees awarded are in biological and biomedical sciences.

Most Liberal Colleges in America

5) University of California-Riverside

  • Acceptance Rate: 69%

UC Riverside’s focus is to inspire a “new generation of innovative thinkers.” According to U.S. News, UC Riverside ranks among one of the most diverse medical schools in the country. This campus is also focused on social mobility and inciting change in a multicultural society.

6) University of Oregon

  • Acceptance Rate: 86%

Located in Eugene, Oregon, this university’s most common undergraduate degree awarded in the 2020-2021 academic year was Social Sciences. The university strives to be an “agent of change and innovation” through their research and academics.

7) Stony Brook University

  • Acceptance Rate: 49%

Part of the SUNY (State University of New York) system, Stony Brook is considered one of the well-known liberal colleges. With a commitment to creating a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ students, Stony Brook also has an emphasis on multicultural learning and community engagement.

8) Pace University

  • Acceptance Rate: 83%

Located in New York, Pace University aims to prepare students for the future through a “rigorous liberal arts curriculum.” Pace also pays special attention to student’s dietary needs, with vegan, gluten-free, Halal, and Kosher options in their dining hall. Currently, international students account for 18% of the student population.

Most Liberal Colleges in the US 

9) University of Washington

  • Acceptance Rate: 48%

University of Washington “welcomes and supports undocumented students of all ethnicities and nationalities.” The Leadership Without Borders Center (LWB) is devoted to offering support systems for these students. Also, the campus actively engages in their Sustainability Action Plan, which hopes to reduce solid waste and greenhouse gases.

10) Northeastern Illinois University

  • Acceptance Rate: 63%

While most liberal colleges are located on the coasts, this school is in the Midwest. Located in Chicago, “Northeastern is regarded as the most diverse public comprehensive university in the Midwest.”

11) Adelphi University

  • Acceptance Rate: 73%

One of the liberal schools in New York, Adelphi University is committed to ensuring that fairness and belonging are a priority. There are several groups at Adelphi that “work to help [identify] areas of progress and opportunity.” Currently, it is considered one of the best colleges for first-year experiences.

12) San Jose State University

  • Acceptance Rate: 75%

San Jose State works to help benefit the cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and beyond. This university has a long history of social activism. Additionally, SJSU works to ensure sustainability and health and wellness are important parts of the student experience.

Most Liberal Colleges in America

13) Ramapo College of New Jersey

  • Acceptance Rate: 70%

A liberal arts college, Ramapo utilizes experiential learning. The campus strives to “promote diversity, inclusiveness, sustainability, student engagement and community involvement.” As well, Ramapo is ranked as a top performer for social mobility.

14) John Fisher University

  • Acceptance Rate: 73%

One of the liberal colleges with a Catholic tradition, St. John Fisher is committed to a liberal arts education. Furthermore, the campus has a focus on inclusivity. “Fisher is a community where all are welcome, regardless of religious or cultural background.”

15) Central Connecticut State University

  • Acceptance Rate: 77%

Central Connecticut State works to offer a wide range of accessible therapy services to its student population. Additionally, the campus has its own LGBTQ+ service center to help all students feel welcome.

16) University of Houston—Downtown

  • Acceptance Rate: 88%

In a recent announcement, UHD was ranked as one of the most diverse liberal colleges in the U.S. Students and faculty work to create “an environment that welcomes and embraces students from all backgrounds.”

Most Liberal Colleges in the US 

17) Northwestern University

  • Acceptance Rate: 7%

A more selective school, Northwestern is located in Evanston, Illinois. With a focus on research, Northwestern also emphasizes the “growth of its students in a diverse academic community.” Their curriculum is both rigorous and empathetic.

18) Boston University

  • Acceptance Rate: 14%

Undoubtedly, Boston University’s campus life is diverse and vibrant. With students hailing from different cultures and religions, BU aims to prevent discrimination and focus on an inclusive campus experience.

19) CUNY Hunter College

  • Acceptance Rate: 48%

According to a recent report, CUNY Hunter College ranked as a top performer for social mobility. Located in New York, this campus is devoted to helping students get involved in areas such as advocacy and outreach, faith-based organizations, and culture-focused organizations.

20) Mount Holyoke College

  • Acceptance Rate: 40%

Presently, Mount Holyoke is a liberal arts college for women. However, the college “is gender diverse and welcomes applications from female, transgender and non-binary students.” Based in Massachusetts, the college is dedicated to empowering women who strive to make a difference in the world.

Most Liberal Colleges in America

21) Sarah Lawerence College

  • Acceptance Rate: 50%

Located in New York, “Sarah Lawrence College is committed to sustaining a diverse and inclusive learning, working, and living community.” A liberal arts college, studies focus on creative and performing arts, history and social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences and mathematics.

22) Portland State University

  • Acceptance Rate: 93%

A public research university, Portland State focuses on affordability and creating a more sustainable future. With a focus on inclusivity, Portland State seeks to “identify the barriers and challenges to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

23) Wesleyan University

  • Acceptance Rate: 14%

A liberal arts community in Connecticut, Wesleyan focuses on interdisciplinary learning. Wesleyan “seeks to build a diverse, energetic community of students, faculty, and staff who think critically and creatively.”

24) West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Acceptance Rate: 88%

With a large range of degree programs, West Chester University of Pennsylvania has a large focus on student life. With over 300 student clubs and organizations, there is a large focus on getting students involved and feeling included.

Most Liberal Colleges in the US 

25) University of California – Berkeley

  • Acceptance Rate: 11%

Interestingly, UC–Berkeley is the #1 all-time top producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Currently, in 2023, this university also includes a student population of 26% first-generation first-year students.

Most Liberal Colleges in the U.S. – In Conclusion

Ultimately, when you attend college, you want to choose an institution that can also challenge your thinking. Exposure to different perspectives is important for a well-rounded educational experience. Attending a college that provides a comfortable environment for you to learn is important. For some students, this environment is provided through choosing one of the liberal schools listed above.

As well, choosing a comfortable campus for you can also include looking at a school’s priority on safety. Safety rankings can also influence a decision on choosing the right school for you.

Depending on your major, a liberal-based education may provide a good basis for your future career goals. Especially if you want to develop your creative thinking, a liberal arts school may be a good fit. Additionally, a liberal arts education may be beneficial if you are looking to pursue an advanced degree.

Regardless of your choice, remember that learning can, and should, include differing opinions and healthy debate. However, choosing a campus where you feel comfortable enough to have those conversations is the first step in the right direction.