Top 10 Conservative Colleges

This is not an exhaustive list of conservative institutions and should not be taken as such.  Nor should it be the only source consulted in a college search.  Young America’s Foundation recommends that this list serve as a starting point.  Parents and students should seek several information sources, read admissions materials thoroughly, consult with friends and counselors, and make visits.  Additionally, Young America’s Foundation is not a college rating organization; we decided to publish this list to help address a frequently asked question.               

For more information, please contact the listed colleges, or feel free to call Young America’s Foundation at 1-800-USA-1776.

10. Harding University
Searcy, Ark.

Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas is a robust Christian college with almost 6,000
students. Seventy-eight majors, twelve pre-professional programs, and fifteen master’s degrees encompass the academic offerings. As the largest private university in Arkansas, Harding offers a well-rounded intellectual experience in a Biblical context. The Honors College also offers in-depth and supplementary study for accelerated students.

Majors from all programs are required to fulfill liberal arts requirements that include seven categories: spiritual and moral values, communications and critical thinking, the individual and social environment, the natural world, the creative spirit, the historical perspective, and global literacy. A moral code signed by all students creates an atmosphere where everyone is held to high standards.

Each year, Harding students participate in a variety of programs from the American Studies Institute, including the Distinguished Lecture Series. Young America’s Foundation is proud to co-sponsor several lectures each year that expose students to the ideas of leaders including Margaret Thatcher, William F. Buckley, Jr., Lech Walesa, and J.C. Watts. Although Harding invited Ann Coulter and then un-invited her due to a few alumni complaints, this year’s program includes a lecture by Senator Zell Miller, co-sponsored by Young America’s Foundation.

Harding’s American Studies Institute puts a strong emphasis on its entrepreneurial development programs. For example, the Belden Center for Private Enterprise Education, led by noted scholar Dr. D.P. Diffine, educates students on the importance of freedom and private enterprise in relation to the success of business.

For more information, contact Harding at:

Harding University Admissions
900 E. Center
Searcy, Arkansas 72149
(501) 279-4407

9. Christendom College
Front Royal, Va.

Christendom College in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia is a Catholic college with about 370 undergraduates. Seven majors and a master’s degree in theological studies are offered. All undergraduate programs begin with a core curriculum that includes study of Catholic doctrine, as well as philosophy, mathematics, and science.

The college was founded in 1977 by a group of Catholics concerned with the direction of higher education, especially within the Catholic church. “Only an education which integrates the truths of the Catholic faith throughout the curriculum is a fully Catholic education,” stated the founders. Led by Dr. Warren H. Carroll, they also envisioned how “the only rightful purpose of education is to know the truth and to live by it. The purpose of Catholic education is therefore to learn and to live by the truth revealed by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”

The original vision of Christendom lives today through the institution’s devotion to Catholic theology and way of life. The core curriculum reinforces a Catholic worldview and teaches students to “distinguish truth from error or distortion, and then to communicate truth accurately, effectively, and convincingly to others.”

For more information, contact Christendom at:

Christendom College Admissions
134 Christendom Drive
Front Royal, Virginia 22630
(800) 877-5456

8. Patrick Henry College
Purcellville, Va.

Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia is a growing Christian college with about 320 students. Over the next few years, it plans to expand to about 1,200 students. Founded in 2000, Patrick Henry offers five majors and is focused on Biblical values, a classical approach to education, and real-world experience through apprenticeships. Its motto, “For Christ and For Liberty,” demonstrates the central goals of education at this small institution.

Distinguished faculty members study conservative philosophy and are committed to restoring the traditional concept of liberty to American life. For example, Government Department Chairman Robert D. Stacey studied Sir William Blackstone’s legacy and its implications on current law. In addition, Professor Mark T. Mitchell, who teaches philosophy and political theory, published influential work on modern conservative philosophers.

Academic excellence through internships and practical experience is central to education at Patrick Henry. “Apprenticeship methodology” requires students to engage in research during their internship, which helps develop relationships and skills that will aid in developing a future career. Perhaps, as a result, the forensics program at Patrick Henry College has been nationally recognized despite the school’s young age. Teams in debate, parliamentary debate, and moot court also continue to win awards.

Patrick Henry offers cutting edge programs including the strategic intelligence concentration in the department of government. Students in this program study intelligence analysis, investigative techniques, open source data exploitation, counter-intelligence, counter-terrorism, and information dissemination. Strategic intelligence students participate in Patrick Henry’s apprenticeship program at prestigious locations such as the FBI, the CIA, or in local police departments.

For more information, contact Patrick Henry at:

Patrick Henry College Admissions
One Patrick Henry Circle
Purcellville, VA 20132
(888) 338-1776

7. Liberty University
Lynchburg, Va.

Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia is an evangelical Christian university with about 8,700 on-campus students, and 12,000 in off-campus learning. Overall, Liberty offers thirty eight undergraduate majors and twenty-nine minors, as well as fifteen graduate programs, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, a law school, the Liberty Bible Institute, and the English Language Institute. Even though it claims to be the largest Christian university in the world, it plans to continue expanding.

Liberty is directed by a solid Christian vision that is found throughout the institution’s programs, and led by Rev. Jerry Falwell. In addition, the faculty is committed to a Christian worldview and interested in furthering the doctrinal statement of the college.

All academic programs revolve around a Christian worldview and strive for excellence. Liberty also maintains distance learning that allows students to pursue one of several degrees from home. More than one hundred courses are offered in multiple subjects. Many of the participants have a traveling vocation such as the military or missions. A special program entitled “Home School Advantage” is a specially designed Bible study program for home-schooled students that accelerates their transition into the university.

The Christian experience at Liberty does not stop with the classroom. Dormitories are supervised by Spiritual Life Directors (SLD’s), older students that foster a Christian lifestyle and atmosphere. Many extracurricular programs are designed to further the mission of the college, including an annual Christian music festival called “block party,” Bible study, and chapel programs. The central Virginia campus also offers NCAA division I athletics, Reserve Officer Training Corps programs, and special conferences devoted to Biblical issues.

For more information, contact Liberty at:

Liberty University Admissions
1971 University Boulevard
Lynchburg, Virginia 24502
(800) 582-2000

6. College of the Ozarks
Point Lookout, Mo.

The College of the Ozarks is a unique Christian college with about 1,400 students, located in Point Lookout, Missouri. Dubbed as “Hard Work U.” by The Wall Street Journal, it has a special work-study program in which students work in lieu of paying tuition.

In addition to the thirty-four majors, thirty-eight minors, and eight pre-professional programs it offers, the College of the Ozarks has an extensive character education program. As soon as students arrive for freshman orientation, they begin character education programs and abide by a certain set of rules. There is a dress code, and students must sign an honor code that prohibits academic dishonesty.

A core liberal arts curriculum is required of all students and an optional character-based curriculum is available but not required. The general education curriculum is “purposefully complemented by an emphasis on the development of vital competencies” such as writing, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary connections. Overall, the College of the Ozarks offers a robust array of programs and excellent opportunities to receive a well-rounded education.

One of the most distinctive features of the College of the Ozarks is the work-study program. All students work fifteen hours per week instead of paying tuition. Many students find interesting jobs at the college such as working at the airport, in the print shop, as a campus landscaper, or on the farm. Two forty-hour weeks are also required during longer breaks, including Christmas or Easter. Some students also work during the summer to get ahead on their tuition or to cover their room and board costs.

For more information, contact College of the Ozarks at:

College of the Ozarks Admissions
P.O. Box 17
Point Lookout, Missouri 65726
(800) 222-0525

5. Thomas Aquinas College
Santa Paula, Calif.

Thomas Aquinas College is a small Catholic college located in southern California with
359 students. No majors or minors are offered since all students participate in the prescribed great books curriculum. The somewhat secluded location in the hills of rural southern California provides a metaphor for the unique nature of this fine institution.

The “great books” of history comprise the entire curriculum of Thomas Aquinas College, and all students graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts. Books on many subjects are included in the program, including music, mathematics, and science as well as philosophy, language, and theology. Faculty members serve less as lecturers and more as facilitators using the Socratic method. Catholic faculty members publicly take the Oath of Fidelity and make a Profession of Faith at the beginning of their terms in office.

Campus life at Thomas Aquinas follows with traditional Catholic morality and teaching. The college itself tries to stay out of organized student activities, but there are many groups in which students participate. For example, the St. Genesius Players is a drama group that puts on productions, the choir often performs, and the “bushwhackers” maintain local trails and organize hiking trips. Student groups are also involved with activism on issues related to traditional religious values.

For more information, contact Thomas Aquinas at:

Thomas Aquinas College Admissions
10000 North Ojai Road
Santa Paula, California 93060
(800) 634-9797

4. Indiana Wesleyan University
Marion, Ind.

Indiana Wesleyan University is a Christian university located in Marion, Indiana with about 2,500 students at the main campus and over 9,500 others through the internet and satellite locations. Twenty-five associate degrees, sixty-five bachelor’s degree programs, and several graduate degrees are offered, mostly at the Marion campus but also at satellite locations state-wide and online. “Indiana Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered academic community committed to changing the world by developing students in character, scholarship and leadership,” states the mission.

The bachelor’s degree curriculum at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) revolves around a core of several requirements, including studies in Biblical literature and world civilization. The university also is home to several prominent scholars in conservative and libertarian thought. Both Dr. David Bartley, professor of political science and history, and Dr. Ivan Pongracic, associate professor of economics, are experts in conservative and libertarian philosophy.

Academic Convocation speakers have included Attorney General Ed Meese and Congressman Jim Ryun. Coursework includes a discussion course on Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” video series. In addition, the university has cooperated with student organizers to bring in Young America’s Foundation speakers including Dinesh D’Souza, Star Parker, and Oliver North.

Lifestyle expectations at IWU promote a Christian atmosphere on campus. The primary values center around “Christ likeness,” and include commitment, learning, serving, and stewardship. A major part of IWU is the goal of producing “world changers” through an “integrated experience of intellectual challenge, spiritual growth, and leadership development.” All first-year students take a course called “Becoming World Changers” which provides a common experience that directs students toward fulfillment of IWU’s mission.

For more information, contact Indiana Wesleyan at:

Indiana Wesleyan University Admissions
4201 South Washington Street
Marion, Indiana 46953
(866) 468-6498

3. Franciscan University of Steubenville
Steubenville, Ohio

Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio is a dynamic Catholic university with 1,981
undergraduate students and 437 graduate students. Majors are available in 35 undergraduate subjects, and the college offers 33 undergraduate minors and seven graduate programs. As a devoutly Catholic institution, Franciscan lives by a conservative intellectual and social philosophy based on the strong liberal arts tradition and the teachings of the Catholic church.

Many of Franciscan’s programs are devoted to obtaining a deeper knowledge of the history, philosophy, and culture that shaped Western Civilization. For example, the university offers five specific programs in which students learn directly about Western Civilization and the role of the Catholic church in its formation. Franciscan also offers an honors program devoted to great books of the Western world. Furthermore, many faculty members have distinguished themselves in conservative scholarship. Political science professor Dr. Stephen Krason penned books about the founding fathers and the Constitution. Legal Studies program director Brian Scarneccia authored a three-volume work outlining and advocating a conservative approach to family issues.

Campus life at Franciscan is different than most colleges. Many students choose to live in a “household,” a mix between a fraternity and a faith-sharing group. Through sports, Bible study, prayer, and other social activities, households provide an essential bonding experience that parallels the mission of the university. A large portion of the student body’s free time is spent serving the community and attending Mass held on campus.

A factor that distinguishes Franciscan is the student body’s devotion to activism on traditional religious values. Public policy, civic participation, and conservative activism groups are popular among students. When John Kerry hosted a rally near campus in 2004, over four hundred students marched to protest his appearance.

For more information, contact Franciscan at:

Franciscan University Admissions
1235 University Boulevard
Steubenville, Ohio 43952
(800) 783-6220

2. Grove City College
Grove City, Pa.

Grove City College is a Christian college located north of Pittsburgh with 2,300 students. It offers fifty five majors and has no graduate program. Its mission states: “while many points of view are examined, the College unapologetically advocates preservation of America’s religious, political, and economic heritage of individual freedom and responsibility.”

As a liberal arts institution, its mission also states: “rejecting relativism and secularism, [Grove City College] fosters intellectual, moral, spiritual, and social development consistent with a commitment to Christian truth, morals, and freedom.” The atmosphere created at Grove City College through its policies encourages “the spiritual, moral, intellectual, and character development” of its students and staff.

Grove City has a commitment to conservative scholarship in various fields. For example, Dr. Paul Kengor (political science) recently wrote a best-selling book entitled God and Ronald Reagan and is an expert in the American presidency. Dr. Tracy Miller (economics) is an expert on international economics who has written on the subject. Many of Ludwig von Mises’ papers are housed and researched at the college. In addition, Grove City boasts a strong department of religion and a new major in entrepreneurship.

Given its legal and financial independence from the federal government, Grove City College’s tuition fees are surprisingly low. Annual tuition is about half the national average, thanks to the college’s generous scholarship and loan program. As a result, Grove City is ranked the #1 best value among comprehensive colleges in the northeast United States by U.S. News & World Report.

For more information, contact Grove City at:

Grove City College Admissions
100 Campus Drive
Grove City, Pennsylvania 16127
(724) 458-2100

1. Hillsdale College
Hillsdale, Mich.

Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan is a strong liberal arts college with 1,200 students. Offering 32 traditional majors, six interdisciplinary majors, and nine pre-professional programs, Hillsdale consistently ranks highly nationwide in U.S. News & World Report, among other publications. Its core curriculum exemplifies the tradition of a classic liberal arts program. All students, regardless of major, are required to take courses in humanities, natural science, and social science during their first two years. Highly respected conservative professors teach at Hillsdale including Dr. Burt Folsom (history) and Dr. Mickey Craig (political science).

Students at this southern Michigan campus hear from one of the largest and most distinguished lecture programs in the country. Hillsdale’s Center for Constructive Alternatives (CCA) has sponsored over 1,100 speakers since 1971, including conservative luminaries such as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Walter Williams. Students are required to attend two hours of CCA seminars in order to graduate.

Independence is an important theme at Hillsdale. Upon its founding in 1844, it was the nation’s first college to prohibit discrimination based on race, sex, or religion in its charter. Ever since, the institution has not taken a penny from the federal government. When some students received federal loans in the 1970s, Hillsdale quickly reacted by maintaining independence and rejecting government quotas. Even given the absence of government funding, Hillsdale remains a great value because it continually provides privately funded financial aid packages.

Hillsdale provides students with a well-rounded education that focuses on liberty. Students learn what liberty means and the moral conditions of its preservation. They develop the skills to be productive citizens and the character to be good ones. The mission statement sums up the college well. It reads: “The College considers itself a trustee of modern man’s intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the Judeo-Christian faith and Greco-Roman culture, a heritage finding its clearest expression in the American experiment of self-government under law.”

For more information, contact Hillsdale at:
Hillsdale College Admissions
33 East College
Hillsdale, Michigan 49242
(517) 607-2327