Top 10 Most Popular Liberal-Leaning Colleges for 2020

Using statistics from over 880 colleges that are considered liberal-leaning, we determined the following schools to be the most popular schools to attend for 2020. Finally, by comparing tuition by semester and fees per credit hour, Value Colleges developed this list of the Top 10 Most Popular Liberal-Leaning Colleges in the United States. Typically speaking, liberal colleges are politically left, accepting of different gender identities and sexual orientations, diverse, and known for being extremely tolerant and culturally sensitive.

In addition, many liberal colleges tend to be less strict and often academics focus on student/faculty collaborations and out of the classroom learning. Often functioning as liberal arts schools these colleges may offer a liberal arts education but their belief systems tend to focus on liberal positions politically, economically, environmentally and socially.


Evergreen State College

Located in Olympia, Washington, Evergreen State College prides itself in offering an education free from endless prerequisites and disconnected classes. Rather, their programs explore the many sides of a theme or topic, which encourages students to take an active and conscious awareness towards how their subject of study can influence the world socially, economically, politically and environmentally. As a progressive college, Evergreen has a strong national reputation as a leader in developing interdisciplinary academic programs that bend traditional boundaries and produce community leaders.

Evergreen State College students are able to obtain their degrees of choice in the quickest way possible, ensuring savings in higher education costs. Nearly 50% of the university’s 2013 graduates left with a degree and zero debt, and over 88% of the university’s graduates are employed or pursing professional or graduate studies within one year after college!

Tuition: $217 per credit hour


University of Vermont

University of Vermont, located on the shores of Lake Champlain, prides itself in offering the same resources as a major research institution while still maintaining the feel of a smaller liberal arts college, with about 10,000 undergraduates enrolled each year. Diversity and an inclusive environment is a top priority for University of Vermont, a value that is represented in the student body and faculty and, according to the Center for Cultural Pluralism this value system continues to carry over into the classroom and all facets of learning at UVM.

The University of Vermont also offers a comprehensive set of financial aid options including loans, scholarships, and a monthly payment plan option that can be used for payments on all tuition or just a portion of the tuition owed.

Tuition: $15,096


Wheaton College

Uniquely an evangelical college, Wheaton College believes in educating the whole person and this liberal view of education extends into all departments and classrooms. The Wheaton community is diverse and stretches worldwide through engaging other cultures through academics and missions all across the globe. As a transformative liberal arts school, it is Wheaton’s goal to educate students beyond the classroom through interdisciplinary and inclusive study.

Wheaton College believes that a higher education should be available to all students and in turn the college awards a number of grants and scholarships annually. In addition, students can apply for financial aid for student loans or work study opportunities.

Tuition: $34,050


Clark University

As innovators in liberal arts based research programs, Clark University is best known for it’s LEEP value system, which pioneers a model for higher education combining experimental learning opportunities with a liberal arts based curriculum. LEEP stands for Liberal Education and Effective Practice. The university offers 30 majors and minors with the opportunity for 14 accelerated degrees. These accelerated degrees include their fifth year of study tuition free!

Clark University is one of the nation’s best colleges for students seeking a superb education with great career preparation and at any affordable price, as recognized in The Princeton Review’s just-released book, “Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck.”

Tuition: $42,800


Mount Holyoke College

As a significant woman’s college in the United States, Mount Holyoke College was founded in 1837 and has since been a leader in woman’s education around the world. Historically and today Mount Holyoke provides an intellectually adventurous education in both the sciences and the liberal arts through a variety of stimulating internationally recognized programs.

The college is proud to boast an exceptionally diverse staff and student body with and is proud to carry a campus wide curriculum that celebrates individualism and diversity. And since it’s founding, Mount Holyoke has unfailingly satisfied access to a college education for women from all socioeconomic backgrounds and offers competitive and strong financial aid packages for all students that can include loans, grants and scholarships.

Tuition: $45,680


Smith College

Smith College’s strong investment in diversity and individualized acceptance is supported by The Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, and these values extend beyond the classroom and are reflected in all facets of teaching at Smith. Smith College believes that this open and accepting environment is essential for students to achieve their highest level of academic excellence. The college is proud to be environmentally sustainable as well, and students are expected to integrate their learning across disciplines to further support and protect our environment.

Financial aid at Smith College is inclusive and students have the options to apply for loans, grants and scholarships. In addition, the college offers a semi-flexible monthly payment plan for tuition payments made directly to the college.

Tuition: $47,620


Grinnell College

Grinnell College believes that by offering a diverse community of faculty, staff and student body, and through teaching social responsibility to all students, alumni will grow and learn to become moral, intellectual and healthy individuals in society both locally and globally. As a leader in social justice education, Grinnell focuses on this mission campus wide. The Social Justice Action Group works towards justice, peace and towards positive social change with missions that promote volunteerism, build global understanding, and fight hunger.

In the 2015-2016 academic year over $58 million dollars in financial aid awards were allotted to 87% of the college’s students, with an additional gift aid award amount of over $50 million dollars.

Tuition: $48,322; $1,510 per credit hour


Swarthmore College

Always an innovator in creating leaders both locally and globally Swarthmore College provides a liberal arts education and engineering curriculum that promote individualized learning, provide volunteer opportunities, and initiate projects that explore some of societies greatest challenges. With a community based learning system, the classroom at Swarthmore extends beyond the campus and into the world.

A Quaker legacy of responsibility guides the college’s cause for teaching social responsibility, simple living, and conservation of resources environmentally and economically, with sustainability at the core. In fact, about 50% of Swarthmore students receive some sort of scholarship assistance and a total of 70% of the students enrolled share over $44 million dollars in financial aid and work opportunities on campus annually.

Tuition: $48,720


Carleton College

Carleton College, nestled in the historic river town of Northfield, Minnesota, is widely recognized for it’s strong and varied liberal arts curriculum with over 1,000 courses and 32 majors to offer. Carleton promotes individual growth and learning, plus community strength locally and globally through asking difficult questions that encourage innovative, forward thinking. At the same time, the colleges strong roots in civil deliberation, ethical action and academic integrity nurtures students to become community leaders near and far.

As a leader in diversity, Carleton College welcomes students of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds. Offering some of the most vigorous financial aid programs available in the United States today, Carleton is committed to meeting 100% of financial need for all of their admitted students for all four years of that students enrollment.

Tuition: $48,987


Skidmore College

Skidmore College, located in beautiful Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, is a front runner in service based learning in the United States. Up to 50% of Skidmore’s student body participates in community service and fundraising proceedings every year and the university offers more than fifty service-based courses annually. With creativity at the core of learning at Skidmore, students are encouraged to bring creative thought to the classroom, which leads to creativity and innovation later in their fields of study and the workforce. Competitive research programs engage student and faculty year-round, including the grant based Summer Student-Faculty Research Program.

More than 20% of the schools operating budget is put towards financial aid, coming to about $42 million dollars annually. In the 2015-2016 school year 40% of students received need based grants, 45% received some sort of financial aid and 50% were given the opportunity to work on campus.

Tuition: $50,684