Best Liberal Colleges in America – A college’s political leanings are influenced by a variety of factors, including its location, administration, and professors. Other institutions just have a more liberal or conservative background, which is typically dictated by the founders’ values.
While you’ll undoubtedly encounter Republicans, Democrats, and everything in between at college, going to a school that shares your ideas helps assure that you’re surrounded by instructors and classmates who share your viewpoints. If you’re a Democratic voter interested in learning about left-leaning perspectives, here’s a list of America’s most liberal institutions.
10 University of California, Berkeley
Acceptance Rate: 91.9 percent
Graduation Rate: 91.9%
Because of its history of anti-war and anti-racist political engagement, the University of California at Berkeley is one of the most liberal universities in the United States. UC Berkeley is the oldest of the University of California colleges and is commonly referred to as a public Ivy League school, meaning it adheres to the same academic requirements as private Ivy League schools. Berkley has a huge student body, with 35,000 undergraduates and 12,000 graduate students.
Engineering, computer science, political science, biology, and economics are among the most popular science disciplines at Berkeley. Berkeley, however, is an artistic town with a variety of art institutions and cultural places for creative students to visit.
Students on campus can participate in programs or attend sporting events, and Berkley is noted for its outstanding athletics department. Steve Wozniak, Joan Didion, Rube Goldberg, and actors Chris Pine and Gregory Peck are among the notable alumni.
9 Mount Holyoke College
Acceptance Rate: 84 percent
Graduation Rate: 84%
Mount Holyoke College, Mount Holyoke College, Mount Holyoke College, Mount Holyoke College, Mount Holyoke South Hadley, Massachusetts is home to this private liberal arts college. Mount Holyoke is a member of the Seven Sisters program, which was established to give women with equal access to higher education.
Students at this college can choose from a variety of classes in the humanities, science, math, and social sciences.
This liberal college is founded on the concept that women can and should make a difference in the world, and students are taught how to tear down traditional oppressive structures by advocating for equality for all.
Students can also enroll in classes at Amherst College, Smith College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst (as part of the Five College Consortium). Art, club sports, politics, performing arts, and religion are just a few of the on-campus activities and clubs available to students.
Like other liberal arts colleges, this one is recognized for having a number of odd customs. For example, the Canoe Sing involves graduating seniors decorating canoes with lanterns and singing songs. Emily Dickinson, Elaine Chao, and Frances Perkins are among the famous alumni.
Acceptance Rate of 85%:
Graduation Rate: 85%
Oberlin College is a liberal arts college and conservatory that places a strong emphasis on independence and creativity.
This university was one of the first in the country to admit African Americans and women, and it continues to set the standard for equality and advocacy. It’s a liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, with a strong concentration on political activity, equality, and LGBTQ rights.
The conservatory at Oberlin is the country’s oldest and most selective conservatory. Outside of the conservatory, students can explore their musical and artistic interests in a variety of ways at Oberlin. The art department, for example, offers degrees in art history, studio art, and visual art. Biology, history, environmental studies, and literature are all popular subjects at Oberlin.
Oberlin is one of the smaller college campuses on our list, with a total undergraduate enrollment of only 2,846 students.
Lena Dunham, Mary Church Terrell, Josh Ritter, Karen O, and Avery Brooks are just a few of the renowned Oberlin alumni.
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7 Wesleyan University
Acceptance Rate of 91%:
Graduation Rate: 91%
Wesleyan University has the highest percentage of liberal colleges (17%). Wesleyan University is located in Middletown, Connecticut, roughly 2.5 hours from New York City by car. It is noted for encouraging the individual study and interdisciplinary learning and has a low acceptance rate. Psychology, visual and performing arts, English literature, and gender and cultural studies are all popular majors at Wesleyan University.
It’s one of the Little Three, a group of three famous regional liberal arts colleges (alongside Williams and Amherst).
This categorization is part of a larger group known as the Little Ivies, which includes a number of the Northeast’s most liberal colleges, such as Colgate, Middlebury, and Swarthmore.
Wesleyan students can join approximately 300 student organizations, including Artifex Publication, the on-campus literary magazine, and the Natural Science and Mathematics Coalition. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Joss Whedon, Santigold, Majora Carter, and Matthew Weiner are among the notable alumni.
6 Bard College
Acceptance Rate of 77%:
Graduation Rate: 77%
Bard College has a 65 percent liberal college website. Bard College is one of the most liberal universities in the region and is located in Annandale-on-Hudson in Dutchess County. Bard College is dedicated to civic engagement and political involvement, and it was the first college in the country to offer a human rights major.
Students at Bard can pick from 40 different majors for their Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees, but English, social sciences, performing arts, and transdisciplinary studies are the most popular. Entrepreneurship and policy are two more prominent academic fields at Bard College.
Students have access to thousands of historic papers and volumes in the Charles P. Stevenson library, which is located within the Hudson River Historic District, a national public landmark. Donald Fagen, Chevy Chase, Ronan Farrow, Blythe Danner, Ali Wentworth, and Gia Coppola are among notable alumni.
5 Bryn Mawr College
Acceptance Rate: 84 percent
Graduation Rate: 84%
Bryn Mawr College has a 34 percent liberal college website. Bryn Mawr is a member of the Seven Sisters college consortium and is a women’s liberal arts college. This institution is noted for being extremely liberal and for emphasizing public engagement and academic performance. Haverford, Swarthmore, and the University of Pennsylvania all offer classes to Bryn Mawr students.
Each freshman at Bryn Mawr College undergoes the Emily Balch Seminars, which prepare students to approach academics and life in general with a critical eye. Students can major in economics, comparative literature, film studies, women’s studies, and romance languages, among other liberal arts fields.
Students are encouraged to specialize in one topic of study while also exploring other fields and hobbies to obtain a well-rounded education. Katharine Hepburn, Emily Green Balch, Edith Hamilton, Maggie Siff, and Marianne Moore are among the famous alumni.
4 Mills College
Acceptance Rate of 66%
Graduation Rate: 66%
Mills currently resides in Oakland, California. This liberal arts college caters to female and gender non-binary students, but graduate students of all gender identities are welcome. Mills is a fantastic option for students applying to several colleges because it is less selective than the other schools on this list.
Social sciences, marketing, business, management, English, and interdisciplinary studies are popular majors at Mills.
Mills College is frequently praised for its value, as it provides a high-quality education at a moderate cost, especially when compared to other liberal arts colleges.
Mills students have the option of designing their own major. Undergraduates in this track can pursue a variety of interests and passions outside of their usual majors. Renel Brooks-Moon, Barbara Lee, and Joanna Newsom are all famous alumni.
3 Portland State University
Acceptance Rate of 61%:
Graduation Rate: 61%
Portland State University (PSU) is one of just a few public universities in the United States that is regarded as extremely liberal. Portland, on the other hand, is a city dedicated to doing good in the world, as evidenced by its university. PSU students will be forced to think critically in new ways, despite the high acceptance rate.
It’s also less of a party school, with students and staff members dedicated to bringing about constructive change through environmental activism, social justice, and reimagining what it means to be an American institution in the modern period.
Despite its location in the city of Portland, Oregon, Portland State University students have access to typical campus features such as sweeping green lawns and exquisite libraries. PSU graduates Carolyn Davidson, Holly Madison, Clint Didier, and Mike Richardson.
2 Sarah Lawrence College
Acceptance Rate: 82 percent
Graduation Rate: 82%
Sarah Lawrence College is located in Bronxville, New York, just outside of New York City. It’s well-known for being one of the greatest institutions for creative writing, but it also offers a variety of social and life sciences programs.
With a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, they have one of the most intimate student-to-faculty ratios of any college campus.
This makes it an excellent alternative for liberal arts students seeking individualized study and supervision from knowledgeable teachers. Sarah Lawrence is a great place for students who desire to work directly with professionals in their professions, especially in the visual and performing arts.
Sarah Lawrence was once a women’s school and still has more female students than males, but it is open to students of all genders. Sarah Lawrence alumni include Barbara Walters, Alice Walker, Ann Patchett, Yoko Ono, Carly Simon, Jordan Peele, and Louise Gluck.
1 San Francisco State University
Acceptance Rate: 79 percent
Graduation Rate: 79%
San Francisco State University, like Portland State University, is a public university with strong left-wing political leanings. This liberal arts college is noted for its diverse student body and is located in San Francisco, California.
This university is part of the California State University system, which has 23 campuses around the state. San Francisco State University provides a diverse selection of majors at a lesser cost than most of the other colleges on this list, making it an excellent alternative for liberal students seeking an interdisciplinary education at a moderate cost.
With a student body of 25,917, it is significantly larger than most liberal arts colleges. Danny Glover, Dana Carvey, Annette Bening, Rebecca Solnit, and Kirk Hammett are among the notable graduates.
Choosing From America’s Most Liberal Universities
Students can attend a variety of liberal arts colleges from coast to coast. Each institution, however, has its own distinct offerings, so consider things like campus life, extracurricular opportunities, and location.