If you want to attend one of the most “conservative” colleges or universities in the United States, traditional Baptist schools won’t be at the top of the list, according to a new survey of 500,000 students nationwide.
Prospective students and their parents have been obsessed with several national rankings of higher education institutions for decades, most notably the U.S. News and World Report rankings. Those assessments look primarily at academics and cost.
Niche is a company that claims to have created “the most accurate, transparent and complete college search tool on the internet.” A major portion of that information comes directly from student opinions about their own schools.
Among the questions Niche asks students is to report on their own personal political preferences and their perceptions of the political leanings of other students on campus. A final score is calculated with 80% weight given to the personal views of responding students and 20% weight given to their perceptions of other students.
No standard definition of “conservative” is given in the survey. Sample sizes for each school range from hundreds to thousands.
Perhaps surprising no one, the most politically conservative college in America is Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and the No. 2 spot goes to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
While Liberty is technically a Baptist school, its origins are in independent Baptist fundamentalism, not the Southern Baptist Convention or any of the state conventions affiliated with the SBC.
If you’re looking for one of those schools, you’ll have to go all the way down to No. 14, which is Dallas Baptist University. The campus of this South Dallas school is built to replicate aspects of Colonial America and its sports moniker is the Patriots.
What’s likely to be a surprise on the list, however, is that another Dallas school ranks No. 7 on the list of most conservative schools in America: Southern Methodist University. SMU also is one of the most expensive private schools in Texas, with a net annual cost of $41,986 — compared to the national average of $15,523.
While Liberty University is closely associated with the new brand of conservatism embodied in the Republican Party of Donald Trump, both BYU and SMU are more closely associated with the classic conservatism of Mitt Romney and George W. Bush.
The niche ranking doesn’t account for theological conservatism, only political conservatism, although the two are often aligned.
The largest of the traditional Baptist schools, Baylor University in Waco, Texas, ranks 45 on the Niche list.
Here are the top 50 most-conservative schools in America as identified by Niche:
- Brigham Young University
- Liberty University
- Bob Jones University
- Cedarville University
- Brigham Young University — Idaho
- Grove City College
- Southern Methodist University
- Colorado Christian University
- North Greenville University
- Utah State University
- Maranatha Baptist University
- Biola University
- Texas A&M University
- Dallas Baptist University
- Harding University
- Samford University
- Abilene Christian University
- Lee University
- Missouri University of Science and Technology
- The University of Alabama
- Auburn University
- Texas Christian University
- University of Wyoming
- Ouachita Baptist University
- Wayne State College
- George Fox University
- Southeastern University, Lakeland, Fla.
- University of Tennessee at Martin
- University of Arkansas
- Troy University
- Benedictine College
- Susquehanna University
- University of Northwestern — St. Paul
- Arkansas State University
- Oklahoma State University
- Utah Valley University
- LeTourneau University
- Northwest University
- Cornerstone University
- South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
- West Texas A&M University
- Angelo State University
- Carroll College
- Idaho State University
- Baylor University
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University — Prescott
- Southern Utah University
- Moody Bible Institute
- Southwestern Oklahoma State University
- DeVry University – Illinois