This is a ranking of the best value conservative universities in the United States for 2017-2018. The sense in which conservative is used in this article is to indicate the political leanings of the university’s student body. Many universities have a wide range of political beliefs represented in the faculty, and as nonprofits most universities shy away from declaring any official political alignment. In this article we used resources like The Princeton Review and Niche (links below) which have done surveys of student bodies across the nation to determine which universities have the most conservative students. Ties were broken by awarding the higher rank to the university with the best 20 year net return on investment. Our ranking of the best value conservative universities includes public and private, religious and nonsectarian universities. More information on the methodology and sources can be found at the end of the article.

#25. University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Rating: 7

University of Alabama-Best Value Conservative Colleges

According to Niche student surveys, the University of Alabama is the 62nd most conservative university in the United States.

Website

The University of Alabama is ranked #103 in national universities and #66 in best colleges for veterans among national universities. The thirteen colleges and schools at the University of Alabama include social work, law school, engineering, community health sciences, education, arts and sciences, and communication and information sciences.

Tuition: $26,950
Avg. Loan Debt: $36,800
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $230,000
Graduation Rate: 67%

#24. Saint Leo University

Saint Leo, Florida
Rating: 7

Saint Leo University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Saint Leo University is a Roman Catholic school affiliated with the Order of Saint Benedict.

Website

U.S. News and World Report ranks Saint Leo #29 among best value schools in the south, and #59 for best online bachelor’s programs. The most popular bachelor’s programs offered online are business administration and management, psychology, criminal justice, accounting, and homeland security. Saint Leo’s three schools are arts and sciences, business, and education and social services.

Tuition: $21,440
Avg. Loan Debt: $27,100
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $273,000
Graduation Rate: 45%

#23. Western Kentucky University

Bowling Green, Kentucky
Rating: 8

Western Kentucky University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Niche recognizes Western Kentucky University as having the 49th most conservative student body in the United States.

Website

Western Kentucky University offers 14 bachelor’s programs 100% online in addition to its traditional programs. Online programs include criminology, dental hygiene, family and consumer sciences, and healthcare administration. Western Kentucky is ranked #31 in regional universities south, #23 in best colleges for veterans in the southern region, and #10 among the top public schools in the south.

Tuition: $24,792
Avg. Loan Debt: $25,300/strong>
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $208,000
Graduation Rate: 43% (31% transfer out)

#22. Regent University

Virginia Beach, Virginia
Rating: 8

Regent University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Regent University is an interdenominational evangelical university whose chancellor is Pat Robertson.

Website

U.S. News and World Report ranks Regent University #5 for best online bachelor’s programs, and #196 in high school counselor rankings. Regent offers nearly all their undergraduate degrees online. Degree areas include business, communication, criminal justice, film and animation, government, healthcare, information systems technology, international studies, mathematics, science, theatre, and religion and theology.

Tuition: $16,438
Avg. Loan Debt: $27,200
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $240,000
Graduation Rate: 49%

#21. Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, Oklahoma
Rating: 8

Oklahoma State University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

OSU admits 75% of applicants.

Website

Niche’s surveys have determined Oklahoma State University to have the 57th most conservative student population in America. Among Oklahoma State’s eight colleges are colleges of agricultural sciences and natural resources, engineering, architecture and technology, business, and osteopathic medicine. U.S. News ranks OSU #152 among national universities and #91 in engineering programs.

Tuition: $22,443
Avg. Loan Debt: $23,800
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $290,000
Graduation Rate: 61% (18% transfer out)

#20. Cedarville University

Cedarville, Ohio
Rating: 8

Cedarville University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Cedarville University is affiliated with the protestant evangelical Christian Baptist denomination.

Website

U.S. News and World Report ranks Cedarville University #12 in regional colleges midwest, #3 in best colleges for veterans, and #42 in engineering programs. Cedarville offers degrees in the area of English and literature, business administration, biblical and theological studies, and art, design, and theatre. Cedarville was ranked as having the 16th most conservative student body in the United States.

Tuition: $28,110
Avg. Loan Debt: $31,900
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $252,000
Graduation Rate: 72%

#19. Mid-America Christian University

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Rating: 9

Mid-American Christian University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Mid-America Christian University has an open admission policy.

Website

Niche ranks Mid-America Christian University as the 67th most conservative U.S. university according to its student surveys. Mid-America Christian has schools of behavioral science, business administration, math and science, ministry, music, and teacher education. The school has 2,069 undergraduate students and maintains an 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio.

Tuition: $17,130
Avg. Loan Debt: $26,300
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $230,000
Graduation Rate: 39%

#18. Southern Utah University

Cedar City, Utah
Rating: 9

Southern Utah University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Southern Utah University admits 72% of applicants, has 8,035 undergraduate students, and an 18 to 1 student to faculty ratio.

Website

Southern Utah University offers majors in many areas, including aviation, business, computer science, outdoor and environment, science and math, engineering and technology, humanities, and visual and performing arts. U.S. News and World Report ranks SUU #68 among regional universities west, #148 in engineering programs, and #372 in business programs.

Tuition: $19,810
Avg. Loan Debt: $21,400
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $242,000
Graduation Rate: 47%

#17. Southern Methodist University

Dallas, Texas
Rating: 9

Southern Methodist University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Southern Methodist University admits 49% of applicants.

Website

U.S. News and World Report ranks Southern Methodist University #56 among national universities, #32 in best colleges for veterans, and #48 in business programs. Niche rates Southern Methodist University as having the 18th most conservative students among the surveyed schools. SMU has an undergraduate student body of 6,411, and maintains an 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio.

Tuition: $50,358
Avg. Loan Debt: $36,000
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $317,000
Graduation Rate: 79%

#16. South Dakota State University

Brookings, South Dakota
Rating: 10

South Dakota State University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

South Dakota State university admits 92% of applicants.

Website

South Dakota State University is ranked #73 among the most conservative colleges in America by Niche. SDSU offers undergraduate degrees online including early education and care, geography, interdisciplinary studies, nursing, and sociology. SDSU is ranked #202 in national universities, #110 in top public schools, and #193 in best online bachelor’s programs.

Tuition: $11,403
Avg. Loan Debt: $29,500
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $233,000
Graduation Rate: 54%

#15. Troy University

Troy, Alabama
Rating: 10

Troy University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Troy University admits 92% of applicants.

Website

Troy University is ranked #226 for best online bachelor’s programs, #69 among regional universities in the south, and #23 among top public schools in the south. The most popular majors at the school are criminal justice, psychology, business, and computer science/information science. Troy has an undergraduate student population of 14,190 with a 15 to 1 student to faculty ratio.

Tuition: $15,484
Avg. Loan Debt: $27,400
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $244,000
Graduation Rate: 33% (35% transfer out)

#14. Auburn University

Auburn, Alabama
Rating: 10

Auburn University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Auburn has a 21,786 undergraduate student population and accepts 78% of applicants.

Website

The Princeton Review considers Auburn University to have the most conservative student body of any university in the United States. Auburn has eleven colleges including veterinary medicine, sciences and mathematics, business, engineering, liberal arts, and architecture, design, and construction. U.S. News and World Report ranks Auburn #99 in national universities, #63 in business programs, and #58 in engineering programs.

Tuition: $28,840
Avg. Loan Debt: $31,300
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $300,000
Graduation Rate: 73% (19% transfer out)

#13. Pepperdine University

Malibu, California
Rating: 10

Best Value Conservative Colleges

Pepperdine is a private Christian university associated with the Churches of Christ Denomination.

Website

Some of the colleges at Pepperdine are letters, arts and sciences, business and management, law, education and psychology, and public policy. Pepperdine is ranked #50 among national universities by U.S. News, #29 in best colleges for veterans, and #29 in best value schools. Pepperdine accepts 38% of applicants, has an undergraduate student population of 3,533, and a student to faculty ratio of 13 to 1.

Tuition: $50,022
Avg. Loan Debt: $28,400
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $319,000
Graduation Rate: 84%

#12. Utah State University

Logan, Utah
Rating: 10

Utah State University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Niche rates Utah State as the 28th most conservative college in America.

Website

Utah State University has eight colleges, including the Caine College of the Arts, College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, and the College of Science. U.S. News ranks the school #220 in national universities, and #116 in engineering programs.

Tuition: $20,492
Avg. Loan Debt: $22,900
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $350,000
Graduation Rate: 49%

#11. Miami University Ohio

Oxford, Ohio
Rating: 11

Miami University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Miami University is an NCAA Division 1 school in the Mid-America Conference.

Website

Miami University Ohio admits 65% of applicants, has 16,387 undergraduate students, and a 15 to 1 student to faculty ratio. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school #79 among national universities, #47 in best colleges for veterans, and #2 for best undergraduate teaching. Niche places Miami University at 90th among the 100 most conservative schools in the United States.

Tuition: $32,555
Avg. Loan Debt: $30,800
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $393,000
Graduation Rate: 80%

#10. Weber State University

Ogden, Utah
Rating: 11

Weber State University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Weber State University has a 25,318 undergraduate student population with a 21 to 1 student to faculty ratio and an open admission policy.

Website

Weber State is one of the most affordable schools with one of the lowest average student debt rates among our ranking of best value conservative colleges and universities. U.S. News and World Report ranks Weber #76 in regional universities west and #69 in engineering programs. Niche ranks Weber as the 83rd most conservative school in the United States according to the political beliefs of its students.

Tuition: $14,749
Avg. Loan Debt: $19,000
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $398,000
Graduation Rate: 34% (18% transfer out)

#9. LeTourneau University

Longview, Texas
Rating: 11

LeTourneau University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

LeTourneau University is an interdenominational Christian university.

Website

LeTourneau University’s eight colleges and schools include arts and sciences, aviation and aeronautical science, business, education, engineering and engineering technology, and nursing. U.S. News ranks LeTourneau #27 in regional universities west, a #15 best college for veterans, and #31 in engineering. The student population at LeTourneau is ranked the 15th most conservative in the U.S. by Niche.

Tuition: $28,480
Avg. Loan Debt: $28,600
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $427,000
Graduation Rate: 57%

#8. Grove City College

Grove City, Pennsylvania
Rating: 13

Grove City College

Grove City is ranked 39th among the nation’s most conservative schools by Niche.

Website

Grove City College has one of the lowest tuition costs in our ranking of best value conservative colleges and universities. U.S. News and World Report ranks Grove City at #122 among national liberal arts colleges, and #55 among engineering programs. Grove City College is a Christian liberal arts college that does not take any federal funding, opting to use its own Student Freedom Fund instead of the federal grant system.

Tuition: $16,630
Avg. Loan Debt: $42,500
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $374,000
Graduation Rate: 85% (2% transfer out)

#7. Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Rating: 13

Wake Forest University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Wake Forest University has 194 student clubs and organizations.

Website

Wake Forest University has an undergraduate student population of 4,871 with a 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio. U.S. News and World Report ranks Wake Forest at #27 among national universities, #5 in best undergraduate teaching, and #28 among best value schools. Wake Forest is also ranked #32 among the most conservative schools in the United States by Niche with 3.6 out of 5 surveyed students identifying as conservative.

Tuition: $49,308
Avg. Loan Debt: $38,100
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $437,000
Graduation Rate: 88%

#6. Clemson University

Clemson, South Carolina
Rating: 13

Clemson University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Clemson has a student population of 18,016 undergraduates and admits 51% of applicants.

Website

Niche ranks Clemson as the 48th most conservative university in the United States. Clemson has ten colleges and schools including agriculture, forestry and life sciences, education, engineering, computing and applied sciences, architecture, arts and humanities, and science. U.S. News and World Report ranks Clemson at #66 in national universities, #23 in top public schools, and #41 among best colleges for veterans.

Tuition: $34,590
Avg. Loan Debt: $30,500
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $447,000
Graduation Rate: 81%

#5. Texas Tech University

Lubbock, Texas
Rating: 14

Texas Tech University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Texas Tech has an undergraduate population of 29,237 students.

Website

Texas Tech is ranked #94 in business programs, #84 in engineering programs, and #176 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report. Niche places Texas Tech at #60 among their 100 most conservative colleges and universities. Texas Tech has nine colleges and schools including agricultural sciences and natural resources, architecture, arts and sciences, business administration, engineering, and media and communications.

Tuition: $18,220
Avg. Loan Debt: $30,000
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $403,000
Graduation Rate: 60%

#4. Texas A&M University

College Station, Texas
Rating: 15

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University has a massive undergraduate population of 48,959 students.

Website

Texas A&M University is ranked #74 in national universities by U.S. News and World Report, and #21 in best value schools. The Princeton Review ranks TAMU as the having the 14th most conservative student body in the United States. TAMU’s 16 departments and colleges include veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences, engineering, geosciences, architecture, and agriculture and life sciences.

Tuition: $19,990
Avg. Loan Debt: $24,100
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $500,000
Graduation Rate: 42% (34% transfer out)

#3. University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Indiana
Rating: 17

University of Notre Dame-Best Value Conservative Colleges

The University of Notre Dame is ranked #15 in national universities by U.S. News and #7 in best undergraduate teaching.

Website

Niche ranks Notre Dame as the 65th most conservative school with 3.3 out of 5 students responding as conservative on personal political preference. Notre Dame has six colleges and schools including the Mendoza College of Business, College of Arts and Letters, School of Architecture, College of Engineering, Keough School of Global Affairs, and College of Science.

Tuition: $49,685
Avg. Loan Debt: $25,300
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $546,000
Graduation Rate: 97%

#2. Colorado School of Mines

Golden, Colorado
Rating: 19

Colorado School of Mines-Best Value Conservative Colleges

Programs at Mines are concerned with the responsible stewardship of the earth and its resources.

Website

Colorado School of Mines is ranked #91 on Niche’s ranking of the top 100 most conservative universities in the United States. The school’s majors are almost exclusively STEM in nature, with a primary focus on engineering and applied sciences disciplines. Mines accepts 48% of applicants and retains 86% of first-year full-time students. U.S. News and World Report ranks Mines at #82 among national universities, #44 in engineering, and #33 among top public schools.

Tuition: $36,172
Avg. Loan Debt: $33,400
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $818,000
Graduation Rate: 77% (7% transfer out)

#1. Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah
Rating: 20

Brigham Young University-Best Value Conservative Colleges

98.5% of the students at BYU belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest Mormon denomination.

Website

Brigham Young University accepts 48% of applicants and has an 86% retention rate for first year full-time freshman students. BYU isn’t just one of the best value conservative universities, it’s also one of the best value universities in the United States according to U.S. News and World Report, which ranks the school #15 for value and #68 among national universities. The 14 colleges and schools at BYU include the Marriott School of Management, School of Continuing Education, David O. McKay School of Education, Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering, and Department of Family, Home and Social Sciences.

Tuition: $5,300
Avg. Loan Debt: $20,200
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $581,000
Graduation Rate: 80%

Methodology

Each of the four categories awarded points on a scale based on the school’s stats in that category. Explanations of each category and how points are allocated follow.

20 Year Net Return on Investment

Return on investment is weighted the highest out of all factors. When one looks at education as an investment, the return on that investment becomes one of the most important factors.

$200,000=2 Points
$300,000=4 Points
$400,000=6 Points
$500,000=8 Points
$600,000=10 Points
$700,000=12 Points
$800,000=14 Points

Graduation Rate

Return on investment doesn’t become a factor until the degree is complete. That’s why graduation rate of universities is key. Now this can be affected by numerous factors. More selective schools that accept only top students will have higher graduation rates than schools with open admittance or lower requirements. However, there are schools with high acceptance rates that manage to have high graduation rates, so the ability of the school to help struggling students succeed is a factor. We subtract one point from schools with below 50% graduation rate unless the school has open admittance or a high enough transfer-out rate to bring the number above 50%. However, transfer out rate does not factor into the overall graduation rate because the students don’t graduate from that university.

Below 50%=-1 Point

70%=1 Point
75%=2 Points
80%=3 Points
85%=4 Points
90%=5 Points
95%=6 Points

Tuition

It doesn’t matter how great the return on investment is if you can’t afford the school. So tuition is important. It also contributes to which end of the average you are on for return on investment. The more you pay through loans, the lower your return will be because of interest and other factors. So while tuition may not be the most important factor when considering the value of a university, it is still important.

<$10,000=6 Points
<$15,000=5 Points
<$20,000=4 Points
<$25,000=3 Points
<$30,000=2 Points
<$35,000=1 Point

Below Average ($37,172) Student Loan Debt=3 Points

Students should always attempt to graduate with as little debt as possible. A school having lower than average student debt shows they are willing to help students find funding alternatives to loans, and keep the student debt low. Not all financial aid departments are created equal.

Sources

Information comes from either the website of each individual school or from the following sources.

College Navigator

Payscale

U.S. News and World Report

Princeton Review

Niche 100 Most Conservative Colleges in America

CVO Staff
June 2017

This has been a ranking of the 25 best value conservative colleges for 2017-2018.