Most liberal colleges in America

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November 1, 2020
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Most liberal colleges in America

While there is no indisputable proof that there are more liberals than conservatives in academia—and while it's likely arguments against political bias have more to do with ideological challenges rather than oppression—the perception that higher education is overwhelmingly liberal is a persistent one. A recurring theme in some conservative circles is that U.S. colleges are too liberal in general: Reporting from The Conversation holds that certain activists "have claimed that universities brainwash students and indoctrinate them into believing a liberal ideology.”

It is true, though, that some schools are more liberal than others. Just as there are purposely conservative schools, there also are schools that have a history of liberalism or progressive ideology, schools that exist in liberal regions, and schools that are progressive by design. These schools tend to be among the most prestigious, largest, and best-endowed schools in the United States.

Stacker consulted the Niche college explorer site in order to determine the 50 most liberal universities and colleges in America. For this gallery, we ranked schools' liberalism based on students' reviews of the schools' campus communities. These reviews weighed the political leaning of the reviewer, if the reviewer attends or has attended the school, and the reviewer's opinion of it.

Niche's methodology considered students' self-reported political leanings while at the college they currently or recently attend(ed); and the results of student surveys (data released and accurate as of 2020) on campus political preferences, specifically liberal students' opinions about the political leanings of students at the college they currently or recently attend(ed).

Keep reading to find out what schools are the country's most liberal.

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#50. San Jose State University

- Location: San Jose, CA
- Students: 23,099 (student to faculty ratio: 26:1)
- Acceptance rate: 55% (ACT: 19-26; SAT: 1030-1260)
- Tuition: $7,796 (in-state); $19,676 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 65%; six-year median earnings: $56,100

In 2019, San Jose State University opened a food pantry for its neediest students, according to NBC Bay Area. Any enrolled student with an annual income of less than $33,000 may use the pantry once a week to ensure they have access to the nutrition they need.

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#49. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 10,740 (student to faculty ratio: 17:1)
- Acceptance rate: 41% (ACT: Not available; SAT: 980-1140)
- Tuition: $7,270 (in-state); $14,940 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 46%; six-year median earnings: $44,900

A few liberal traditions overlap in CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. It’s a public school located in the heart of a major city, with a focus on criminal justice combined with the eclectic liberal arts. The school is spread over several buildings in midtown Manhattan.

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#48. Arcadia University

- Location: Glenside, PA
- Students: 1,951 (student to faculty ratio: 12:1)
- Acceptance rate: 64% (ACT: 21-27; SAT: 1050-1250)
- Tuition: $43,740 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 71%; six-year median earnings: $44,100

Undergraduate students at Pennsylvania’s Arcadia University tap into a 170-year history of liberal arts, and the school is nationally ranked for the quality of its programs. Despite middling admission statistics, the school has a high graduation rate among peer institutions.

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#47. Pace University

- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 7,943 (student to faculty ratio: 14:1)
- Acceptance rate: 76% (ACT: 22-27; SAT: 1060-1220)
- Tuition: $43,624 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 56%; six-year median earnings: $60,300

Pace University is the umbrella name for a collection of schools based in New York City and upstate, covering everything from undergraduate liberal arts to the MFA drama program home to “Inside the Actors Studio.” Alumni include “Sopranos” star Vincent Pastore and celebrity chef Rachael Ray.

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#46. Whittier College

- Location: Whittier, CA
- Students: 1,699 (student to faculty ratio: 11:1)
- Acceptance rate: 76% (ACT: 20-25; SAT: 1030-1210)
- Tuition: $48,924 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 66%; six-year median earnings: $46,800

Whittier College and its home, Whittier, California, are both named for a Quaker visionary whose influence they still reflect. The community of Whittier is about 55% white, and the student body at Whittier College has up to 70% nonwhite students.

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#45. University of Chicago

- Location: Chicago, IL
- Students: 6,600 (student to faculty ratio: 5:1)
- Acceptance rate: 7% (ACT: 33-35; SAT: 1470-1570)
- Tuition: $55,425 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 94%; six-year median earnings: $68,100

The University of Chicago’s undergraduate program is smaller and more liberal than its robust graduate schools. Undergrads can choose from dozens of majors across the full range of STEM and humanities, as well as preprofessional majors.

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#44. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

- Location: Ann Arbor, MI
- Students: 29,245 (student to faculty ratio: 11:1)
- Acceptance rate: 23% (ACT: 30-34; SAT: 1330-1510)
- Tuition: $15,558 (in-state); $51,200 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 92%; six-year median earnings: $63,400

Colorful, progressive Ann Arbor is cited as one of the best college towns in the nation, while the massive University of Michigan—the number here is just the undergraduates—draws over 100,000 people to its Big 10 sports stadium. The university is prestigious, with alumni like novelist Jesmyn Ward and iconic actor James Earl Jones.

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#43. Adelphi University

- Location: Garden City, NY
- Students: 5,056 (student to faculty ratio: 12:1)
- Acceptance rate: 74% (ACT: 22-27; SAT: 1080-1270)
- Tuition: $38,740 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 70%; six-year median earnings: $58,500

Adelphi University is based in Long Island’s Garden City but has campuses in other New York locations. Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Flavor Flav met as students there in the 1980s.

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#42. Fordham University

- Location: Bronx, NY
- Students: 9,149 (student to faculty ratio: 15:1)
- Acceptance rate: 46% (ACT: 28-32; SAT: 1250-1430)
- Tuition: $52,687 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 83%; six-year median earnings: $59,200

Fordham is named for the portion of the Bronx where it began about 180 years ago. Alan Alda and Denzel Washington are among the Catholic university’s most famous alumni.

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#41. California State University - East Bay

- Location: Hayward, CA
- Students: 10,187 (student to faculty ratio: 26:1)
- Acceptance rate: 72% (ACT: 16-21; SAT: 800-1020)
- Tuition: $6,983 (in-state); $18,863 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 48%; six-year median earnings: $51,700

Cal State East Bay is found in the diverse community of Hayward, which experienced a heyday of industrial food production decades ago. The recent death of baseball legend and commentator Joe Morgan was especially big news for this school—his alma mater.

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#40. Virginia Commonwealth University

- Location: Richmond, VA
- Students: 20,207 (student to faculty ratio: 18:1)
- Acceptance rate: 86% (ACT: 21-28; SAT: 1070-1260)
- Tuition: $14,493 (in-state); $35,834 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 67%; six-year median earnings: $44,000

Until this year, Virginia Commonwealth University was the home to sociologist and “Lower Ed” scholar and author Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom, who recently won a MacArthur genius grant. The university is found in Virginia’s capital and has more than 30,000 students in both undergraduate and graduate programs.

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#39. Claflin University

- Location: Orangeburg, SC
- Students: 1,984 (student to faculty ratio: 14:1)
- Acceptance rate: 56% (ACT: 17-21; SAT: 830-1060)
- Tuition: $16,854 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 50%; six-year median earnings: $28,500

Claflin University is a historically Black university also linked with the United Methodist Church. It was founded just after the U.S. Civil War and is South Carolina’s oldest HBCU, with a series of notable Methodist bishops among its alumni.

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#38. CUNY New York City College of Technology

- Location: Brooklyn, NY
- Students: 10,902 (student to faculty ratio: 18:1)
- Acceptance rate: 75% (ACT: Not available; SAT: 843-1030)
- Tuition: $7,120 (in-state); $14,790 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 17%; six-year median earnings: $40,600

In the heart of Brooklyn, CUNY New York City College of Technology offers both traditional and returning college students a practical and convenient educational option. The college was founded in 1946 as a path to meaningful careers for returning World War II soldiers.

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#37. West Chester University of Pennsylvania

- Location: West Chester, PA
- Students: 13,060 (student to faculty ratio: 19:1)
- Acceptance rate: 74% (ACT: 21-26; SAT: 1050-1200)
- Tuition: $10,412 (in-state); $22,236 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 75%; six-year median earnings: $48,400

Jill Biden earned her master’s degree at West Chester University, a public research university in the area just west of Philadelphia. It belongs to a consortium of public Pennsylvania universities that stretches all the way to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in the other corner of the state.

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#36. Tuskegee University

- Location: Tuskegee, AL
- Students: 2,462 (student to faculty ratio: 14:1)
- Acceptance rate: 52% (ACT: 17-27; SAT: 860-1060)
- Tuition: $22,170 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 42%; six-year median earnings: $35,500

Tuskegee is a historically Black university that was the longtime home to professor George Washington Carver. It was also the home base of the Tuskegee Airmen, an elite group of Black pilots who trained a few miles from the main campus.

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#35. Beloit College

- Location: Beloit, WI
- Students: 1,228 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 56% (ACT: 21-29; SAT: 1120-1360)
- Tuition: $50,040 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 79%; six-year median earnings: $42,400

Tiny Beloit College is just an hour from iconically liberal Madison, Wisconsin, but itself sits in a complex Rust Belt town just up the highway from Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville. Students have specialty options like an undergraduate anthropology program and the iconic course offering Cultural Approaches to Math.

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#34. Massachusetts College of Art & Design

- Location: Boston, MA
- Students: 1,650 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 67% (ACT: 21-26; SAT: 970-1160)
- Tuition: $13,700 (in-state); $38,400 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 63%; six-year median earnings: $36,200

MassArt is one of the oldest art schools in the nation, publicly funded and separate from any other schools. Independent filmmaker Hal Hartley attended the school, and art education icon Walter Smith taught there while producing his influential pedagogy books.

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#33. Tufts University

- Location: Medford, MA
- Students: 5,508 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 15% (ACT: 31-34; SAT: 1380-1530)
- Tuition: $56,382 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 93%; six-year median earnings: $75,800

Located in inner suburban Boston, Tufts has a long history of robust research and an emphasis on public service. Actor Peter Gallagher is a noted alumnus, while fellow actor Rainn Wilson is a noted dropout.

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#32. Kenyon College

- Location: Gambier, OH
- Students: 1,721 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 36% (ACT: 29-33; SAT: 1280-1470)
- Tuition: $55,930 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 87%; six-year median earnings: $48,700

Kenyon College is a small prestigious college that includes among its graduates Paul Newman, Alison Janney, former President Rutherford B. Hayes, cartoonist Bill Watterson, and Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme.

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#31. Occidental College

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Students: 1,907 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 37% (ACT: 28-32; SAT: 1270-1450)
- Tuition: $54,686 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 85%; six-year median earnings: $50,600

Occidental College is the oldest liberal arts college on the West Coast. The school graduated Terry Gilliam, Jack Kemp, George Edward Alcorn, Jr., and former President Barack Obama, and actors Ben Affleck and Luke Wilson also took courses there.

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#30. Willamette University

- Location: Salem, OR
- Students: 1,759 (student to faculty ratio: 11:1)
- Acceptance rate: 84% (ACT: 25-30; SAT: 1100-1330)
- Tuition: $50,279 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 74%; six-year median earnings: $51,100

Willamette University is a “College that Changes Lives,” with a high graduation rate compared with peer institutions. The undergraduate programs are complemented by a law school attended by just a few hundred students.

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#29. Northeastern Illinois University

- Location: Chicago, IL
- Students: 3,640 (student to faculty ratio: 14:1)
- Acceptance rate: 56% (ACT: 15-22; SAT: 910-1050)
- Tuition: $11,218 (in-state); $20,726 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 21%; six-year median earnings: $37,900

Deeply diverse Northeastern Illinois University is a Hispanic Serving Institution and one of the most upwardly mobile universities in the country. The undergraduate programs include older working adults as well as those of traditional college age, mixing liberal arts with preprofessional studies and even certificate programs.

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#28. Bennington College

- Location: Bennington, VT
- Students: 704 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 57% (ACT: Not available; SAT: Not available)
- Tuition: $53,860 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 74%; six-year median earnings: $29,500

Bennington boasts a high number of famous alums and instructors, especially relative to its size. These include gender theorist Judith Butler, feminist theorist Andrea Dworkin, and critic Camille Paglia.

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#27. Hendrix College

- Location: Conway, AR
- Students: 1,194 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 72% (ACT: 27-32; SAT: 1160-1390)
- Tuition: $49,140 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 71%; six-year median earnings: $39,700

Arkansas’s Hendrix College is one of the “Colleges That Change Lives,” highlighted by expert Loren Pope as a school that gives students access to opportunities and meaning-giving experiences that Pope says could go beyond a traditionally elite education. The small city of Conway once did a large fundraiser to keep the school, which was considering a move to Little Rock.

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#26. University of San Francisco

- Location: San Francisco, CA
- Students: 6,435 (student to faculty ratio: 13:1)
- Acceptance rate: 65% (ACT: 23-29; SAT: 1130-1330)
- Tuition: $49,740 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 75%; six-year median earnings: $62,300

The University of San Francisco recently announced its achievement of carbon neutrality more than 30 years ahead of its 2050 target. This means the school offsets the carbon it uses, effectively casting a virtually invisible carbon footprint. The school did this by embracing green cleaning products, installing microturbines for heat and energy, and buying energy offsets, among other things.

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#25. Binghamton University, SUNY

- Location: Vestal, NY
- Students: 13,630 (student to faculty ratio: 19:1)
- Acceptance rate: 40% (ACT: 28-32; SAT: 1310-1440)
- Tuition: $9,853 (in-state); $26,648 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 81%; six-year median earnings: $61,600

Binghamton University is part of the State University of New York system, with campuses scattered in the central New York area that includes Binghamton. Influential comics artist Art Spiegelman attended the university before dropping out.

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#24. Howard University

- Location: Washington D.C.
- Students: 5,991 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 32% (ACT: 22-27; SAT: 1140-1280)
- Tuition: $26,756 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 62%; six-year median earnings: $49,200

The national capital's HBCU (one of Historically Black Colleges and Universities), Howard University is a top-tier research university—the only one currently in the HBCU system. It is also one of the most selective schools for minority students and a top 25 law school for placing graduates in successful law firms.

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#23. Oberlin College

- Location: Oberlin, OH
- Students: 2,758 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 36% (ACT: 29-31; SAT: 1280-1490)
- Tuition: $55,052 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 86%; six-year median earnings: $40,800

Formerly the Oberlin Collegiate Institute, Oberlin College is the second-oldest continuously operating coeducational institution in the world and the oldest in the United States. The school's Oberlin Conservatory of Music is the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the nation, as well.

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#22. University of California - Riverside

- Location: Riverside, CA
- Students: 20,210 (student to faculty ratio: 23:1)
- Acceptance rate: 51% (ACT: 23-29; SAT: 1110-1330)
- Tuition: $13,827 (in-state); $42,819 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 75%; six-year median earnings: $49,700

In 2019, the University of California-Riverside announced that the school has received a grant from NASA's Translational Research Institute for Space Health. The grant, valued at $800,000, will be used to study how to make vegetable crops suitable for growth on the International Space Station.

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#21. Fayetteville State University

- Location: Fayetteville, NC
- Students: 4,058 (student to faculty ratio: 17:1)
- Acceptance rate: 68% (ACT: 18-21; SAT: 890-1030)
- Tuition: $5,249 (in-state); $16,857 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 35%; six-year median earnings: $31,200

Fayetteville is often cited as one of the liberal bastions within North Carolina, and Fayetteville State University extends that reputation into education. The university’s undergraduate programs serve students of all ability levels, including those of traditional college age as well as returning adults.

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#20. Colorado College

- Location: Colorado Springs, CO
- Students: 2,098 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 15% (ACT: Not available; SAT: Not available)
- Tuition: $60,390 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 89%; six-year median earnings: $45,400

Colorado College is the westernmost of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, a consortium of small liberal arts schools. It’s very selective, with a high graduation rate, and despite its small size, the school competes in a couple of Division I sports.

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#19. University of California - Berkeley

- Location: Berkeley, CA
- Students: 29,570 (student to faculty ratio: 20:1)
- Acceptance rate: 15% (ACT: 31-35; SAT: 1320-1530)
- Tuition: $14,184 (in-state); $43,176 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 91%; six-year median earnings: $64,700

The University of California, Berkeley, has been the symbol of the progressive movement for at least the second half of the 20th century. The campus was instrumental in the Free Speech Movement of 1964, opposition to the Vietnam War, and the People's Park Protest of 1969—where the National Guard was called against the student protesters.

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#18. CUNY Hunter College

- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 13,111 (student to faculty ratio: 13:1)
- Acceptance rate: 36% (ACT: Not available; SAT: 1150-1330)
- Tuition: $7,182 (in-state); $14,852 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 56%; six-year median earnings: $47,200

Hunter College in New York City has distinguished itself as a center of excellence with the inclusion of two women Nobel Laureates in medicine on its alumni list. The school also can boast such other alums as Vin Diesel, Hugh Downs, Rhea Perlman, Robert Altman, Donna Shalala, and Judy Reyes.

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#17. University of Washington

- Location: Seattle, WA
- Students: 29,496 (student to faculty ratio: 19:1)
- Acceptance rate: 49% (ACT: 27-32; SAT: 1220-1460)
- Tuition: $11,207 (in-state); $36,587 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 84%; six-year median earnings: $57,700

A graduate student team from the University of Washington won a 2019 competition for environmental innovation. The team discovered a way to make batteries degrade more slowly over time, allowing them to stay useful longer. “If you can fix batteries, it has an impact on so many other clean energy technologies,” said Elizabeth Rasmussen, founder of MOtiF Materials, the University of Washington team.

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#16. Portland State University

- Location: Portland, OR
- Students: 14,291 (student to faculty ratio: 21:1)
- Acceptance rate: 90% (ACT: 18-25; SAT: 1010-1230)
- Tuition: $9,578 (in-state); $28,410 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 49%; six-year median earnings: $44,700

Portland State University was created as a post-secondary educational option for returning World War II veterans. It is the only public university in Oregon near a city center. The university has developed partnerships with Intel and Portland General Electric.

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#15. Ramapo College of New Jersey

- Location: Mahwah, NJ
- Students: 4,821 (student to faculty ratio: 16:1)
- Acceptance rate: 63% (ACT: 21-26; SAT: 1050-1240)
- Tuition: $14,374 (in-state); $23,715 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 74%; six-year median earnings: $53,200

Ramapo College is only about 50 years old, making it one of the youngest schools on the list. It sprang up in response to development in the surrounding suburban area, and as a small (but public!) liberal arts college, it appeals to a different demographic than local community colleges or larger public universities.

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#14. Denison University

- Location: Granville, OH
- Students: 2,365 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 34% (ACT: 28-31; SAT: 1210-1380)
- Tuition: $55,420 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 85%; six-year median earnings: $48,800

The 2019 passing of former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar was hard on the Denison University community, as Luger was an alumnus (class of 1954) and a trustee of the school. “Lugar was a great Denisonian and human being. He lived the mission of the college, and in doing so, he made the world a better place,” Denison President Adam Weinberg said in a statement released by the university.

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#13. Vassar College

- Location: Poughkeepsie, NY
- Students: 2,442 (student to faculty ratio: 8:1)
- Acceptance rate: 25% (ACT: 31-33; SAT: 1370-1510)
- Tuition: $56,960 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 92%; six-year median earnings: $54,600

One of the “Seven Sisters,” Vassar College is among the most-selective schools in the nation. Once an all-women school, Vassar became coeducational in 1969. Meryl Streep, Anthony Bourdain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Jane Fonda, and Anne Hathaway are all alumni.

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#12. Barnard College

- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 2,519 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 14% (ACT: 30-33; SAT: 1330-1500)
- Tuition: $56,068 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 92%; six-year median earnings: $57,900

Barnard College came to be in response to Columbia University—at the time—being all men. An independent affiliate of Columbia and today among the most-prestigious private women's liberal arts schools, both schools share certain classes, clubs, and buildings. As one of the “Seven Sisters,” the school produced such well-known graduates as Martha Stewart, Joan Rivers, Ntozake Shange, Cynthia Nixon, and Zora Neale Hurston.

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#11. Boston University

- Location: Boston, MA
- Students: 17,396 (student to faculty ratio: 10:1)
- Acceptance rate: 22% (ACT: 30-33; SAT: 1330-1500)
- Tuition: $56,854 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 88%; six-year median earnings: $65,300

The largest school in New England, Boston University is emblematic of the city it's in: Many of its buildings are recognizable landmarks. The alma mater of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—where he received his Ph.D. in systematic theology in 1955—also boasts an alumni roster that includes Alexander Graham Bell, Elie Wiesel, Isaac Asimov, Saul Bellow, President William Howard Taft, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, and Howard Stern.

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#10. University of Oregon

- Location: Eugene, OR
- Students: 17,550 (student to faculty ratio: 17:1)
- Acceptance rate: 83% (ACT: 22-28; SAT: 1080-1290)
- Tuition: $11,898 (in-state); $35,478 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 73%; six-year median earnings: $44,800

Another hipster-friendly environment, Eugene plays host to the University of Oregon. The university’s Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact was funded in part by the single-largest gift ever given to a public university.

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#9. New York University

- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 25,725 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 20% (ACT: 29-34; SAT: 1310-1510)
- Tuition: $51,828 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 85%; six-year median earnings: $61,900

Greenwich Village's New York University is the spiritual competitor to Columbia University. The school's research has redefined our understanding of the world, as reflected in the 2019 news about research that humans evolved from ground-dwelling apes rather than primates that lived in trees.

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#8. Independence University

- Location: Salt Lake City, UT
- Students: 9,779 (student to faculty ratio: 30:1)
- Acceptance rate: 100% (ACT: Not available; SAT: Not available)
- Tuition: $16,972 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 12%; six-year median earnings: $28,800

Independence University is based in Utah but is 100% online, and although it’s not a for-profit university, it shares some qualities with those institutions. That includes national accreditation, a newer and less stringent alternative to regional accreditation.

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#7. Mount Holyoke College

- Location: South Hadley, MA
- Students: 2,177 (student to faculty ratio: 9:1)
- Acceptance rate: 51% (ACT: 29-32; SAT: 1290-1500)
- Tuition: $49,998 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 83%; six-year median earnings: $48,600

Mount Holyoke College placed its police chief on administrative leave in 2019 following protests when it was discovered that the chief liked Twitter posts that featured Donald Trump calling to “BUILD THAT WALL” and the NRA wishing a “Merry Christmas.” The protests were triggered when a staffer at nearby Smith College called campus police on a Black student worker on her lunch break. The chief heads a joint police department serving both campuses.

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#6. Stony Brook University, SUNY

- Location: Stony Brook, NY
- Students: 16,341 (student to faculty ratio: 18:1)
- Acceptance rate: 42% (ACT: 26-31; SAT: 1230-1420)
- Tuition: $9,625 (in-state); $27,295 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 74%; six-year median earnings: $57,600

New York’s Stony Brook University has a prestigious graduate school system that produces tons of cutting-edge research, like recent findings about rates of brain conditions among 9/11 first responders. The Long Island institution is part of New York’s robust State University of New York system.

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#5. Northwestern University

- Location: Evanston, IL
- Students: 8,161 (student to faculty ratio: 6:1)
- Acceptance rate: 8% (ACT: 33-35; SAT: 1430-1550)
- Tuition: $54,568 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 95%; six-year median earnings: $69,000

Illinois' marquee research university, Northwestern University, draws in more than $700 million in sponsored research each year, according to the school's website. The university is a founding member of the Big Ten Conference and the only private university currently part of the conference. It also has the ninth-largest endowment in the United States, valued at more than $11 billion.

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#4. University of Vermont

- Location: Burlington, VT
- Students: 10,434 (student to faculty ratio: 16:1)
- Acceptance rate: 68% (ACT: 26-31; SAT: 1180-1360)
- Tuition: $15,936 (in-state); $39,120 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 76%; six-year median earnings: $47,300

Vermont is very hippie- and hipster-friendly. One of the “Public Ivy” schools, the University of Vermont has been progressive in recent years, with the inclusion of gender-neutral, single-occupancy bathrooms throughout campus, extensive environmental sustainability initiatives, and its FeelGood chapter, which raised more than $100,000 toward ending extreme hunger.

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#3. University of California - Santa Cruz

- Location: Santa Cruz, CA
- Students: 17,255 (student to faculty ratio: 19:1)
- Acceptance rate: 47% (ACT: 26-32; SAT: 1190-1400)
- Tuition: $13,960 (in-state); $42,952 (out-of-state)
- Outcomes: graduation rate: 74%; six-year median earnings: $46,900

Created as a center for progressive, cross-discipline education, the university is designed to give the feel of small, intimate colleges inside a large university. Among the more popular majors are critical race & ethnic studies and the history of consciousness.

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#2. Northeastern University

- Location: Boston, MA
- Students: 13,864 (student to faculty ratio: 14:1)
- Acceptance rate: 19% (ACT: 32-34; SAT: 1360-1540)
- Tuition: $51,522 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 88%; six-year median earnings: $67,400

Boston has more than its share of first-class universities. Northeastern University is Boston's research university, relying on a cooperative educational model—which pairs classroom work with professional experiences, such as internships—to offer a complete educational experience. It is one of the leading schools in the world for co-op education and internships.

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#1. American University

- Location: Washington D.C.
- Students: 7,952 (student to faculty ratio: 12:1)
- Acceptance rate: 32% (ACT: 27-31; SAT: 1220-1380)
- Tuition: $48,459 - Outcomes: graduation rate: 80%; six-year median earnings: $61,000

United Methodist Church-affiliated American University was created to promote and encourage public service and internationalism. Like many universities, American University is in the midst of an inclusion debate, this one triggered in 2019 by the filming of an American University student using a racist slur.

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