Many Americans think of colleges and universities as oases of liberal politics and personalities. Campuses around the country are generally home to a vocal left-wing student population and extremely progressive social policies. This isn’t the case at every U.S. school, however.
A 37% plurality of U.S. residents identify as politically conservative. While they may not all attend college, and some students change their political attitudes over time, conservative ideologies are still well-represented on campuses across the United States.
Many universities have significant political diversity on campus, with specific clubs or groups for vocal conservatives. But a handful of college communities around the country run deeply conservative. From their student body and faculty to the subjects taught and student conduct codes, there are certain colleges that are well known for embodying the ideals of conservative politics and behavior.
By focusing on the most important political issues for conservatives in the U.S., we’ve identified the 10 most conservative colleges in the country. These schools tend to favor free market economics, maintain traditional conservative views on moral and social issues, attract students with right-wing political views, and value individual liberty and limited government. Some schools have even gone so far as to refuse federal government funding so as to remain independent and limit government action. Others enforce strict student honor or conduct codes.
Many conservative colleges and universities are small, private, and Christian, and most are in politically conservative states. Read on for our full list of the 10 most conservative colleges in the U.S.
Most Conservative Colleges
Hillsdale College - Hillsdale, Michigan
Established in 1844, Hillsdale College cemented itself as one of the most conservative colleges in the U.S. in the mid-1900s. The school was under pressure from the federal government to include new regulations and student quotas; Hillsdale argued these mandates violated the college’s nondiscrimination policy. It eventually led to a Supreme Court case, where Hillsdale was required to adopt the new regulations or risk losing federal funding and student scholarships. Hillsdale chose to reject the funding and strike its own path, limiting the impact the federal government could have on the school going forward and exemplifying the school’s maverick spirit.
Hillsdale is a private, nonsectarian, liberal arts college that emphasizes patriotism and morality. Students take courses in the Great Books and U.S. founding documents. Hillsdale students also have a strong military record dating back to fighting for the Union in the Civil War. Clubs on campus include the College Republicans and the Young Americans in Freedom.
Brigham Young University - Provo, Utah
Home to nearly 30,000 students, BYU is a research university and one of the biggest private schools in the U.S. BYU is almost entirely composed of members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), many of whom are from Utah. BYU boasts a strong academic history, a beautiful campus, and nationally competitive division-I athletics.
The school’s LDS-based honor code makes BYU one of the most conservative colleges in the country. Covering everything from premarital sex and alcohol to lawful obedience and academic honesty, the honor code lists the traditional moral standards of conservatism that many colleges lack. Students are also required to attend church services and be virtuous. The school also relies on funding from the church for much of its student aid.
Biola University - La Mirada, California
The Bible Institute of Los Angeles, now officially known as Biola University, was founded near downtown LA and is now a nondenominational Christian school. Biola, home to more than 6,000 students, allows faith to permeate through every aspect of education. Students take a minimum of 30 credits in courses focused on theology and Bible study, allowing each student to earn a minor in the subject. Biola has stated that it wants all students to think “biblically” inside and outside of the classroom. Biola’s entire campus community, including faculty and staff, are active and professing Christians.
Liberty University - Lynchburg, Virginia
Liberty has become a home-away-from-home for conservative politicians, most recently emblemized by Ted Cruz, who chose to announce his candidacy for president at the school. Liberty was originally founded as the Lynchburg Baptist College by famed evangelical Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell in the 1970s. Since its founding and a few name changes, Liberty has emerged as the largest Christian university in the world and a base of political conservatism.
Liberty has more than 14,000 student on campus and another 95,000 online, including tens of thousands of military students. Teaching in dozens of subjects and offering a number of undergraduate and graduate degrees, the school focuses on Christian morality and ethics. In addition to the focus on education through God, the university has a strong patriotic streak. The school colors are red, white, and blue, and the curriculum is grounded in Western thought.
College of the Ozarks - Point Lookout, Missouri
Officially, the school is named College of the Ozarks. Unofficially, it’s “Hard Work U”. The College of the Ozarks, near Branson, Missouri, is a Christian liberal arts college with a unique focus on hard work. Undergraduates are not charged tuition and are instead required to work throughout the year — 15 hours a weeks during the semester and 40 during breaks, with options for more work during the summer. This unique approach is designed to help students develop a strong work ethic, practice Christian service work, and understand the civic responsibilities of American citizenship without plummeting into debt.
The unique work-study relationship is not the only conservative aspect students encounter at the College of the Ozarks. The school also has a strong honor and dress code for its student body as well as required attendance at church services.
Oral Roberts University - Tulsa, Oklahoma
Founded by and named for well-known evangelist Oral Roberts, the Tulsa-based university features 65 majors with undergraduate and graduate degrees. The interdenominational Christian school is known for its strict, conservative policies: it enforces codes banning various activities, including gambling and drinking, while promoting specific dress and honor codes. With a focus on education of “mind, body, and spirit,” Oral Roberts even gives students fitness devices to track their physical activity.
Students are required to attend church services multiple times during the week, and the campus has a strong conservative student body. Popular campus clubs include College Republicans and The Liberty Society, among others.
University of Dallas - Irving, Texas
The University of Dallas is a small, independent Catholic college located just outside of Dallas. Like many conservative colleges, the university’s politics stem from the church. Many local monks, nuns, and friars acted as the faculty when the school was originally founded, and today, the bishop of the diocese of Dallas is the chancellor of the school.
One of the school’s main missions is to continue the conservative Catholic intellectual tradition and promote Western historical values. Nearly 80% of students at the school study abroad, many in the affiliated Rome, Italy program. All students are required to take Western thought classes, starting with ancient Greece, and most undergraduates are required to live on campus throughout the year. The campus is also home to prominent Republican and liberty clubs.
Grove City College - Grove City, Pennsylvania
Repeatedly named one of the best conservative colleges in the U.S. by the Young America’s Foundation, Grove City College proudly declares that it “stands for the principles of smaller government, free markets and Christian values.” The nonsectarian, Christian college doesn’t just stand for these principles but practices them as well. Like Hillsdale College, Grove City College is one of the few colleges in the U.S. that refuses federal funding. Without federal funding, the school isn’t required to meet federal requirements or obey federal oversight.
Grove City also operates on a balanced budget, carries very little debt, and tries to keep college affordable for students. The school is committed to free market economics and lauds American faith and freedom. The school, which has conservative and libertarian student groups on campus, is connected to a number of prominent conservative think tanks as well.
Thomas Aquinas College - Santa Paula, California
Known as one of the most conservative colleges in the Western United States, Thomas Aquinas College is a Catholic school in southern California. Although founded in the 1970s, Thomas Aquinas rejects the newer, progressive, liberal politics and traditions embodied by many schools throughout the U.S. Instead, students at this small school adhere to a singular curriculum designed around the Great Books, which instill conservative morality and Western thought. Professors embrace the Socratic method in traditionally taught modules in all available subjects. The school only has a few hundred students, and therefore features a close-knit community of faculty, students, and staff. Dormitories are not coed and drinking is not allowed on campus.
Texas A&M University - College Station, Texas
With nearly 65,000 undergraduate and graduate students, a strong football program, and a massive campus, Texas A&M is not like most of the other schools on this list. The well-known land-grant public research university is one of the largest schools in the country, but also one of the most conservative.
Although the “M” stands for “mechanical,” not military, the school does have a strong military program and history with the armed forces. This history, along with the school’s geographical location and right-leaning student body, lend to its identity as one of most conservative schools in the U.S. There are a number of conservative political groups on campus and a plurality of students vote Republican.