If you hold strong political beliefs, you may want to go to a college where the students, faculty, and administration share your values. You’ll be more likely to find student groups that are aligned with your interests and beliefs. The values of the college will be more likely to coincide with your own, and you’ll probably have a more enjoyable college experience.
In this article, I’ll give you the names of some of the most conservative colleges in the United States. Furthermore, I’ll detail the traits of conservative colleges, explain the possible advantages and disadvantages of attending a conservative college, and advise you on how to find a conservative college that's a good fit for you.
Traits of the Most Conservative Colleges
Conservative colleges are politically right-wing. The students tend to favor conservative positions like outlawing abortion, reducing the size of government, and protecting gun rights.
Christian colleges are often more conservative. Many Christian colleges adhere to more traditional social views and rules that attract conservative Christian students and faculty.
Furthermore, conservative colleges are more strict and regimented than liberal colleges. Conservative religious colleges like BYU and the College of the Ozarks have strict rules that all students must follow. At BYU, male students can’t have beards or long hair. These colleges are much less tolerant of alcohol and drug use than liberal colleges. Also, the armed service academies are known for being conservative. They have many more rules than the average college regarding personal appearance and conduct.
Finally, the most conservative colleges often reflect the political leanings of their locations. Many of the most conservative colleges are located in conservative states. Examples of conservative colleges in conservative locations include Clemson University (South Carolina), Utah State, and the University of Alabama. However, there are conservative colleges in liberal states. Pepperdine and Thomas Aquinas College are conservative colleges in California, but they’re both Christian colleges.
Possible Advantages of Attending a Conservative College
If you're a self-described conservative, you may be more comfortable and happy at a college with many other conservative students. At very liberal colleges, students are often not that accepting and think negatively of conservatives. If you attend a conservative college, you’re more likely to meet people who share your political and social views, and you won't be ostracized for your beliefs.
Also, at a conservative college, the faculty and administration are more likely to accept or believe in conservative values. Studies have shown that college faculty tend to be much more liberal. If you’re a conservative student, you may not prefer having your opinions evaluated by a professor who is likely to hold very different beliefs.
Additionally, conservative colleges are generally more accepting of religious Christian students. Many of the most conservative colleges are Christian colleges that profess Christian values and attract Christian students. Even conservative colleges that are not Christian colleges have a larger proportion of Christian students than liberal colleges.
Lastly, conservative colleges are more likely to stress discipline. The service academies require students to follow many rules regarding conduct and appearance. While young people often abhor rules, the discipline of service academy graduates may facilitate their success. The US Naval Academy and the US Military Academy both finished in the top 10 in Payscale’s rankings of the best colleges and universities by salary potential. Similarly, The College of the Ozarks makes all students work, but it’s a tuition-free college.
US Military Academy
Possible Disadvantages of Attending a Conservative College
Depending on your beliefs and your ideal college experience, conservative colleges may not be a good fit for you.
On issues of sexuality, conservative colleges are less likely to have resources for and be accepting of LGBT students. Similarly, the students at conservative colleges are more likely to be opposed to gay marriage. If you are looking for a college where LGBT students are welcome, you may feel like a misfit at a conservative college.
Conservative colleges tend to have more structure. If you prefer more freedom and independence to direct your education and social lives, then you may feel restricted by the discipline of conservative colleges. For instance, some colleges have harsh rules regarding when you can have visitors in your dorm, drinking, and drug use.
Finally, if you want a college where a wide range of students attend and where you can have your beliefs more regularly challenged, conservative colleges may be too homogeneous for your tastes. Conservative colleges tend to attract primarily students of conservative leanings. If you want a more liberal environment or a wide representation of beliefs, conservative colleges may feel one-note for you.
Lists of the Most Conservative Colleges
Niche is a website that provides reviews, rankings, and statistics about neighborhoods and schools. It provides many different college ranking lists from the overall best colleges to the top party schools to the most liberal colleges.
The Niche rankings of the most conservative colleges are based on a political poll of 50,000 students from 747 colleges. A full 80% of the rankings is based on student survey responses regarding the students' personal political leanings. The remaining 20% is based on student survey responses regarding the political leanings of other students at the college.
Here are the top 50 most conservative colleges according to Niche, with #1 being the most conservative. There is a high percentage of private Christian colleges on the list. Most of the public colleges, such as Utah State, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Arkansas, are located in conservative states.
University of Mississippi (JR P/Flickr)
|1. Franciscan University of Steubenville||Steubenville, OH||79%|
|2. Liberty University||Lynchburg, VA||24%|
|3. Bob Jones University||Greenville, SC||82%|
|4. Brigham Young University - Idaho||Rexburg, ID||100%|
|5. Brigham Young University||Provo, UT||48%|
|6. Southwestern Assemblies of God University||Waxahachie, TX||28%|
|7. Maranatha Baptist University||Watertown, WI||69%|
|8. Biola University||La Mirada, CA||73%|
|9. Colorado Christian University||Lakewood, CO||94%|
|10. University of Northwestern - St. Paul||St. Paul, MN||87%|
|11. Texas A&M University||College Station, TX||66%|
|12. Cedarville University||Cedarville, OH||74%|
|13. Oral Roberts University||Tulsa, OK||22%|
|14. Anderson University - South Carolina||Anderson, SC||63%|
|15. Union University||Jackson, TN||69%|
|16. North Greenville University||Tigerville, SC||59%|
|17. Samford University||Birmingham, AL||91%|
|18. LeTourneau University||Longview, TX||44%|
|19. Grove City College||Grove City, PA||82%|
|20. George Fox University||Newberg, OR||78%|
|21. Wheaton College||Wheaton, IL||79%|
|22. Benedictine College||Atchison, KS||99%|
|23. University of Mississippi||University, MS||79%|
|24. Regent University||Virginia Beach, VA||55%|
|25. Ouachita Baptist University||Arkadelphia, AR||67%|
|26. Taylor University||Upland, IN||80%|
|27. Evangel University||Springfield, MO||62%|
|28. Southeastern University||Lakeland, FL||46%|
|29. Southern Methodist University||Dallas, TX||49%|
|30. University of Mary Hardin-Baylor||Belton, TX||79%|
|31. Utah State University||Logan, UT||97%|
|32. California Baptist University||Riverside, CA||64%|
|33. University of Dallas||Irving, TX||83%|
|34. Azusa Pacific University||Azusa, CA||81%|
|35. Dordt College||Sioux Center, IA||72%|
|36. Geneva College||Beaver Falls, PA||71%|
|37. Crown College||Saint Bonifacius, MN||54%|
|38. Covenant College||Lookout Mountain, GA||96%|
|39. Cornerstone University||Grand Rapids, MI||63%|
|40. Hillsdale College||Hillsdale, MI||45%|
|41. Oklahoma Baptist University||Shawnee, OK||60%|
|42. University of Findlay||Findlay, OH||97%|
|43. Lee University||Cleveland, TN||87%|
|44. Harding University||Searcy, AR||70%|
|45. Asbury University||Wilmore, KY||70%|
|46. Freed-Hardeman University||Henderson, TN||96%|
|47. Oklahoma Christian University||Edmond, OK||61%|
|48. Mount Vernon Nazarene University||Mount Vernon, OH||74%|
|49. Houghton College||Houghton, NY||79%|
|50. Moody Bible Institute||Chicago, IL||62%|
Brigham Young University
The Princeton Review rankings for the most conservative colleges are based on students' responses to the question "Politically, are you left-wing, Democrat, middle, Republican, right-wing?"
All of the colleges that made the Princeton Review list for the top 20 most conservative colleges are religious, located in conservative states, or service academies.
The schools that made both the Niche and Princeton Review lists are the University of Dallas, Hillsdale College, Grove City College, and Wheaton College.
|1. University of Dallas||Irving, TX||83%|
|2. Hillsdale College||Hillsdale, MI||45%|
|3. Thomas Aquinas College||Santa Paula, CA||75%|
|4. College of the Ozarks||Point Lookout, MO||15%|
|5. Grove City College||Grove City, PA||82%|
|6. Hampden-Sydney College||Hampden-Sydney, VA||56%|
|7. United States Naval Academy||Annapolis, MD||8%|
|8. Brigham Young University||Provo, UT||48%|
|9. United States Military Academy||West Point, NY||10%|
|10. Baylor University||Waco, TX||40%|
|11. Wheaton College-Illinois||Wheaton, IL||79%|
|12. Ohio Northern University||Ada, OH||64%|
|13. Texas Christian University||Fort Worth, TX||43%|
|14. University of Louisiana at Lafayette||Lafayette, LA||55%|
|15. Angelo State University||San Angelo, TX||74%|
|16. Wofford College||Spartanburg, SC||70%|
|17. Clemson University||Clemson, SC||51%|
|18. Kansas State University||Manhattan, KS||94%|
|19. High Point University||High Point, NC||72%|
|20. Berry College||Mount Berry, GA||61%|
Niche also offers student reviews of colleges. Here are some comments written by students of some of the most conservative colleges in the United States. I tried to include positive and negative aspects of each school related to its very conservative environment.
I absolutely love my school. There is a strong love and passion for the university reflected every day on campus. Most importantly, the importance of being honest and having strong character is reinforced at Texas A&M University. I would not have wanted to have attended any other university. After receiving my undergraduate degree in Agricultural Economics-Finance and Real Estate, I decided my time here was not over. I will now be attending graduate school to pursue my Masters of Real Estate. If I could do it all over again, I would not change a thing.
Texas A&M has to have the most ignorant, absurdly extremist right-wing culture I have ever encountered. I consider myself a conservative, but the sheer amount of bigotry and intolerance at this school is simply unacceptable for what is supposed to be an educated environment. I was always told that college was meant to expose you to a diverse group of people and help you prepare for a globalized world. A&M does the opposite. It is a sheltered bubble for racist, homophobic, ethnocentrism coupled with extreme Christian and Republican views. Any sense of worldly knowledge, open-mindedness, or cultural exposure is met with disdain if not outright hostility.
Brigham Young University
I love attending Brigham Young University because it provides a learning environment that is compatible with my religious beliefs. The surrounding mountains are spectacular, and there are plenty of museums, theaters and libraries nearby.
I hate the lack of diversity. I feel like although my classes are amazing, I'm not learning real life lessons because I'm in a Mormon bubble. However, there are a lot of cool opportunities. I love my professors and it's easy to get involved.
US Military Academy
Excellent options. You'll be making a lot of money. And people will want to hire you after the army.
Drug tests are monthly, no civilians are allowed in cadet area, you cannot leave post hardly ever unless you are a senior, and you better drive the speed limit on post or you'll get pulled over.
Grove City College
My school has high academic, extracurricular and moral expectations. While others may dislike the high pressure to excel in multiple areas, Grove pushes us to do our best - to strive to reach our potential. In addition, Grove has a close-knit community. The school promotes and provides many opportunities for forming close connections with others. The campus is beautiful and the professors are superior. Grove City is a great college.
Inter-visitation hours (where boys can go into girls dorms and vice versa) include Wednesdays from 7-10 PM, Fridays from 7PM-12 AM, Saturdays from 1PM-12AM, and Sundays from 1-10PM. While a boy/girl is your room, the door must be open 4 inches and a light other than the TV has to be on. You may think that those are just rules and people probably don't follow them. You would be wrong. Everyone follows them. If you have a boy in your room, you have to sign him in with your RA and then they go around during their shift to check to make sure your door is open and they can see a light. If they don't, they knock and come in to tell you to keep the door open or to turn the light on. Time limits are strict too; you gotta have them out right on time or the RA will kick them out. I'm not joking. This really happens. I've heard of people sneaking in on other days, but I've never seen it myself. There's no alcohol on campus and even if there is it's hidden away in someone's room who probably isn't going to share.
Grove City College
How Should You Use These Lists of the Most Conservative Colleges?
If you want to go to a very conservative college, you should research the colleges that interest you on the Niche and Princeton Review lists to determine if they’re schools you should apply to or attend.
There are many factors to consider to determine if a college is a good fit for you including location, selectivity, support services, and the majors offered. Look at the school’s website, and use guidebooks, college finders, search websites, and other ranking lists to help you in the college selection process. If possible, consult with teachers, counselors, parents, current students, and alumni.
What If You Want to Go to a Conservative College, but a School You're Considering Isn't on the Lists?
Just because a school didn’t make either list doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not conservative. Look at the school’s website to see if there are student groups that are aligned with your political and social views. There may be student groups for Republicans, conservative politicians, or members of the NRA. Sometimes, there will be an organization contact listed on the website. If so, you can contact a representative of the organization and ask about the atmosphere on campus.
Also, you can consult other sources that evaluate or grade how conservative a college is. On the Niche profile for each college, under "diversity" for each school's guide, there is a category called "political activity" that describes the political activity on campus. For example, this is how Duke's political activity is described:
Duke, like most universities, has a strong liberal streak, but conservatives have made their voices heard, as well. There are a variety of political organizations on campus that are populated by a significant percentage of the student body. Students advocate for a wide range of political causes, and the University regularly schedules guest political speakers, which are usually very well attended. For example, in 2010, more than 1,000 tickets to see Al Gore lecture sold out in a matter of minutes.
Also, on the College View college finder, you can select that you’re “only interested in schools with a very conservative climate” and search for colleges that fit that criteria, and there are 20 other search categories to help you narrow your college search.
Finally, remember that the political leaning of a college is often reflective of the area where the college is located. For example, colleges in the Northeast tend to be more liberal, and colleges in the South tend to be more conservative. You can determine if a specific city or town is liberal by looking up the candidates it supported in the last election and its views on various political and social issues. Keep in mind that there are conservative cities in liberal states and vice versa. Also, Christian colleges and service academies are typically more conservative regardless of their locations.
Based on the past four presidential elections, the red states are the most conservative.
Because Christian colleges tend to be conservative, you may be interested in checking out my post on the best Christian schools. If you're applying to college soon, learn everything you need to know about the college essay.
Finally, if you need to raise your SAT score to get into the college of your dreams, check out our 15 SAT tips to improve your SAT score. If you're taking the ACT, here are our tips to improve your ACT score.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Justin has extensive experience teaching SAT prep and guiding high school students through the college admissions and selection process. He is firmly committed to improving equity in education and helping students to reach their educational goals. Justin received an athletic scholarship for gymnastics at Stanford University and graduated with a BA in American Studies.