Ranked: The most progressive universities in the U.S.

Our study has assessed the top 40 universities across the U.S. based on statistics concerning diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, and freedom of speech.

Taking all factors into account we have allocated an overall progressivity score to determine who tops the charts.

We believe that gaining a degree is an investment in your future which should not depend on your race, gender, identity, or socioeconomic background.

While no score should be taken as a definitive conclusion, since institutions may thrive in different areas, we want to shine a light on progressivism in academia to help you make an informed choice about your future.

Which universities are the most progressive in the U.S.?

Based on diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, and freedom of speech policies and statistics the below rankings reveal the most progressive universities and colleges in the United States.

To jump to a specific section of the study, please click on one of the 5 icons.

For a complete breakdown of the sources and methodology used, go to our methodology section.

Diversity

Diversity

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech

Inclusivity

Inclusivity

Health and Wellbeing

Health and Wellbeing

Sustainability

Sustainability

Top 5 Universities

goblet number

Winner

Stanford University

Stanford University

Region

Region

West

Diversity

Diversity

76.6

Inclusivity

Inclusivity

85.6

Sustainability

Sustainability

95.0

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech

55.6

Health and Wellbeing

Health and Wellbeing

58.6

Overall Score

Overall Score

74.3

2

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

73.4

3

CORNELL UNIVERSITY

CORNELL UNIVERSITY

71.0

4

YALE UNIVERSITY

YALE UNIVERSITY

68.2

5

HARVARD UNIVERSITY

HARVARD UNIVERSITY

68.0

Scores

Use the filterable table below to discover who comes top overall and for each respective progressive category. Please read the methodology section for a full explanation into how these scores were calculated.

College College Region Region Diversity Diversity Inclusivity Inclusivity Sustainability Sustainability Freedom of Speech Freedom of Speech Health and Wellbeing Health and Wellbeing Overall Score Overall Score

Diversity

Which universities in the U.S. are the most diverse? Pulling in data measuring LGBTQ+ support, gender, ethnic and geographic diversity, the following universities scored the highest in our analysis:

Top 5 Universities

1

CALTECH

CALTECH

95.02

2

NYU

NYU

92.3

3

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

87.0

4

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES

85.3

5

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

85

Findings

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) narrowly edged out New York University as the most diverse college in the U.S. Its score of 58.59% was thanks, in part, to its current diversity policy and the demographics of its student body. As per its Center for Inclusion and Diversity program, Caltech abides by state and federal laws, including Title IX, at all levels. This includes students, faculty, researchers, and staff.

This commitment to diversity has led to a student population that’s 54.7% men and 45.3% women. Of the 2,237 undergraduate and graduate students, 27% are white. Overall, 7 racial-ethnic groups are represented at Caltech, with Asian and black students accounting for a total of 53.8% of the student population.

Spotlight Q&A

Sarah Ondak

First trans person on the Stanford rowing team

To me, it feels kind of weird. I never wanted to be the first anything, but because I was, I felt like I had an obligation to speak up about LGBTQ+ equality on the team. It was never my intention to be the sole representative of my community, but when you’re the only person who identifies in a certain way, you have to make space for yourself.

Inclusivity was never really something I considered, which is interesting when I think about how much time I spent advocating for more inclusivity on my team. Not that anyone was homophobic in any way, just that certain conversations weren’t being had. I don’t regret choosing Stanford for a second though.

Honestly If Stanford is the most progressive school in the US, that’s kind of concerning. I would say I was able to become really close to people from a lot of different backgrounds, and surrounding myself with trans people was really how I found out I myself was also trans. But the student population skews very very affluent and I think that’s an area where diversity can still improve.

I don’t think it’s that big a deal. I’m not being held up as some shining example of “this trans person accomplished xyz and if you’re trans so can you!”. It’s not like that, but maybe just by existing in a space and on the team I made people aware that there are other ways to exist, and that being yourself is in some ways the most radical and important thing you can do.

Inclusivity

Affordability and financial aid were used to gauge inclusivity. The total cost of attending each university on an annual basis was weighed up against the cost for students from low-income backgrounds.

Top 5 Universities

1

DUKE UNIVERSITY

DUKE UNIVERSITY

95.0

2

YALE UNIVERSITY

YALE UNIVERSITY

86.6

3

STANFORD UNIVERSITY

STANFORD UNIVERSITY

85.6

4

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

85.4

5

WILLIAMS COLLEGE

WILLIAMS COLLEGE

83.9

Findings

The desire to achieve a diverse environment is important. However, this is only possible if the financial barriers to entry don’t exclude people from certain socioeconomic backgrounds. Duke is the second highest-rated university in the U.S., with an acceptance rate of just 10%. This makes it one of the most selective in overall terms. However, 50% of those accepted are women and 44.5% of students are from racial-ethnic minorities.

Duke’s ability to balance being highly selective with being open to students from all backgrounds comes from its fee structure. Students from wealthy backgrounds pay $76,929 for tuition. The net price for low-income families, thanks to various grants, is -$5,984. This means low-income undergraduates can not only offset their $76,929 fees, but make money thanks to grants totaling $82,913.

Freedom of Speech

Methodology: The number of organizations, student clubs, and any direct policies referencing freedom of speech were used to rank universities according to this metric.

Top 5 Universities

1

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

95.0

2

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

80.6

3

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN

75.9

4

CORNELL UNIVERSITY

CORNELL UNIVERSITY

71.3

5

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

71.3

Findings

The University of Michigan scored high in our measurements of free speech. Stating that it is against stopping events on the grounds that some people are opposed to the event’s content, its Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression policy reads, “diverse points of view” are “of the highest importance” not just for the speaker, but those wanting to listen.

Health and Wellbeing

Universities were rated according to the number of mental health provisions they offer, as well as campus crime statistics.

Top 5 Universities

1

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO

95.0

2

MIT

MIT

88.6

3

AMHERST COLLEGE

AMHERST COLLEGE

88.3

4

POMONA COLLEGE

POMONA COLLEGE

82.7

5

WELLESLEY COLLEGE

WELLESLEY COLLEGE

81.6

Findings

Every college scored well with regards to health and well-being thanks to a strong focus on the mental aspects of academia and life in general.

This focus on mental health manifests itself through a variety of counseling and support services.

However, to provide some type of comparative analysis, we gave each institution a campus safety score.

The University of California – San Diego, came top with an index score of 95/100, due to excellent student mental health support and campus safety.

Methodology

Data for this research came from the following sources. These were:

Source data verification was conducted to ensure all data collected and analyzed was reliable. All sources were fact checked to ensure credibility and authenticity.

Following this data collection and analysis, each data point was collated and compared to one another to create a finalized ranking for section and overall score.

For any additional questions on the methodology used, please get in touch with us.