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
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $36,800
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $230,000
Graduation Rate: 67%
#24. Saint Leo University
Saint Leo, Florida
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $27,100
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $273,000
Graduation Rate: 45%
#23. Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, Kentucky
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.
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
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $27,200
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $240,000
Graduation Rate: 49%
#21. Oklahoma State University
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $23,800
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $290,000
Graduation Rate: 61% (18% transfer out)
#20. Cedarville University
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $31,900
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $252,000
Graduation Rate: 72%
#19. Mid-America Christian University
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $26,300
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $230,000
Graduation Rate: 39%
#18. Southern Utah University
Cedar City, Utah
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $21,400
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $242,000
Graduation Rate: 47%
#17. Southern Methodist University
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $36,000
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $317,000
Graduation Rate: 79%
#16. South Dakota State University
Brookings, South Dakota
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $29,500
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $233,000
Graduation Rate: 54%
#15. Troy University
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $27,400
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $244,000
Graduation Rate: 33% (35% transfer out)
#14. Auburn University
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $31,300
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $300,000
Graduation Rate: 73% (19% transfer out)
#13. Pepperdine University
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $28,400
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $319,000
Graduation Rate: 84%
#12. Utah State University
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $22,900
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $350,000
Graduation Rate: 49%
#11. Miami University Ohio
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $30,800
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $393,000
Graduation Rate: 80%
#10. Weber State University
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $19,000
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $398,000
Graduation Rate: 34% (18% transfer out)
#9. LeTourneau University
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $28,600
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $427,000
Graduation Rate: 57%
#8. Grove City College
Grove City, Pennsylvania
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.
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
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $38,100
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $437,000
Graduation Rate: 88%
#6. Clemson University
Clemson, South Carolina
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $30,500
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $447,000
Graduation Rate: 81%
#5. Texas Tech University
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $30,000
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $403,000
Graduation Rate: 60%
#4. Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas
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.
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
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $25,300
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $546,000
Graduation Rate: 97%
#2. Colorado School of Mines
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $33,400
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $818,000
Graduation Rate: 77% (7% transfer out)
#1. Brigham Young University
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.
Avg. Loan Debt: $20,200
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $581,000
Graduation Rate: 80%
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.
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
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.
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.
Information comes from either the website of each individual school or from the following sources.
This has been a ranking of the 25 best value conservative colleges for 2017-2018.