Is American University Liberal? Liberal Universities Explained

Is American University liberal? It’s a good question to ask as students’ aspirations and preferences shift as soon as they graduate high school. 

One would love to know what kind of tertiary institution they would likely join for the next four years.

Certain college students consider it critical to locate a campus community composed of individuals with similar perspectives. As a result, you may wish to consider attending institutions that adhere to liberal ideologies.

This is all the info on liberal arts institutions, from modest arts colleges to research universities. Join us as we find out whether American University is liberal or not.

Is American University Liberal?

Yes, American University in Washington, D.C. is liberal according to a study by the college website Niche, 

The prevalence of colleges that fulfill the liberal stipulations are in predominantly Democratic regions. This includes the northeastern or coastal areas of the United States, which is not unexpected.

Liberal Colleges and Universities Explained

Liberal colleges and universities specialize in the social sciences, literature, and arts. A liberal arts program, instead of imparting specialized knowledge such as computer science or business, teaches students to develop a broad perspective and exercise their critical thinking abilities.

Students can, therefore, select from a variety of employment opportunities following graduation. These colleges seek to educate students in a broad spectrum of subjects and enhance their overall intellect instead of emphasizing a particular occupation or vocation.

Liberal arts education and liberal education are not the same. A liberal arts education focuses on scholarly disciplines, whereas a liberal education explores philosophical concepts.

Reasons Why A Liberal Arts College Might Be Best For You

  1. Time to be free: If you don’t have a specific major in mind but have a general idea of what you want to study, a liberal arts college is an excellent option. 

This type of education allows you to gain knowledge in various fields. You may have a more comprehensive understanding of the available employment opportunities. 

  1. Connections and networking: Those who enjoy getting to know their professors and fellow students will enjoy this type of college. Small class sizes and on-campus accommodations contribute to the close-knit community at colleges.
  2. Acquire an extensive variety of skills: Graduates of liberal arts colleges do not necessarily wish to pursue a specific field of study. By emphasizing interdisciplinary concentration and general knowledge, you can explore numerous avenues of inquiry.

Politics Play A Part in Students Selecting School

Many college students consider political identification and community service to be vital. According to the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute’s 2016 Freshman Survey, 35% of first-year college students identify as liberal or lean left, whereas 22% identify as conservative or lean right.

According to a NACAC survey after the 2016 election, high school seniors who intend to attend college became more interested in politics. 

Due to the current political climate, over fifty percent of the high schools examined by NACAC have increased their political engagement.

Politics influence many students’ selection of colleges and other educational institutions, albeit not exclusively. 

he nation is replete with diverse institutions, ensuring that the majority of individuals can locate at least a few that align with their values and beliefs. 

The inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals, female students, and students from racial and ethnic minority groups constituted a critical indicator.

The proximity of the schools to cities and towns, the environmental friendliness of the campuses, and the societies and organizations that support progressive ideas are also crucial.

How to Choose the Best Liberal College for You

Concepts in education, liberal arts colleges, and universities aim to hone students’ capacity for critical thinking about the world. ‘Liberales Artes’ referred to the type of education available to autonomous individuals during the 14th century.

It dealt primarily with intellectually stimulating subjects, such as geometry, mathematics, language, logic, and rhetoric.

Consider these considerations as you examine the list of prospective liberal universities. They will help as you decide on your ultimate decision. The following factors should be considered:

  • Majors: Does the institution offer the desired major or majors? What are the prerequisites for admission to a collegiate program in your area of expertise, and are there any opportunities to combine areas of study?
  • Tuition and housing: How much does it cost to attend college? Are there methods to obtain financial aid and scholarships?
  • Placement in school: What are the college’s standing, rankings, and accreditation in your field? Are the educators well-informed regarding the subjects that pique your interest? How many students graduate?
  • Location: Are you inclined to remain near home or venture into uncharted territories? Do you prefer mild weather or the changing of the seasons? Do you want to reside in a neighborhood, a metropolis, or a small town?
  • School culture: Is the student body welcoming and diverse? Is it a party school? Does your school have organizations or clubs that convene outside of school hours?
  • Student body: What is the total number of students in the institution? What is the standard class size? Would you instead reside on a small, close-knit campus or in a large, diverse community?

Remember that even the most conservative institutions enroll students who lean to the right or left politically. 

Consider the distinctions between the University of Washington, Boston University, New York University, Northwestern University, and Columbia University student bodies.

Even at the most liberal universities in the United States, one can anticipate hearing various approaches and concepts. 

Liberal arts graduates should possess problem-solving skills, straightforward communication aptitude, and interpersonal rapport.

Liberal arts colleges are distinct from more prominent state universities and private institutions of higher education. The following are some characteristics of liberal universities and colleges:

  • Most liberal arts colleges enroll fewer than 5,000 pupils at any given moment.
  • Liberal arts colleges, including those on campus, have fewer commuter and part-time students. 
  • Teachers strive to foster active student participation and facilitate open dialogue by maintaining reduced class sizes, promoting such engagement. 
  • Liberal arts colleges prioritize teaching over research. Other universities impose research-oriented requirements on faculty members and restrict them to a specific number of classes per term.
  • More prominent colleges provide undergraduate and graduate degrees, whereas liberal arts institutions exclusively offer undergraduate degrees. 

Earning a degree in the liberal arts can provide individuals with valuable professional competencies, including:

  • Adaptability
  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Time management
  • Problem-solving
  • Team work.

A data science or marketing major prepares you for a specific career path. In contrast, a degree in the liberal arts affords one the liberty to investigate diverse alternatives by applying acquired general skills to various types of work.

Liberal Colleges in the U.S.

  • American University

American University (A.U.) is a private liberal arts institution in Washington, D.C. It attracts academics from around the globe interested in studying public affairs, foreign relations, political science, and journalism.

The Northwest D.C. campus provides employment opportunities and additional avenues for engagement in the capital of the U.S. A significant number of A.U. students are politically engaged.

The institution promotes this via its Center for Diversity and Inclusion, which endeavors to improve conditions for first-generation, LGBTQ, and female students.

  • San Jose State University

The public university San Jose State is located in San Jose, California. It is renowned for its computer science, business, engineering, the arts, and engineering courses. SJSU, with approximately 35,000 pupils, is among the largest universities in California.

The school’s location in the heart of Silicon Valley enables students to network with business and technology professionals and secure employment. Additionally, SJSU has a food pantry to assist students who cannot obtain food.

  • Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke is a private liberal arts institution in South Hadley, Massachusetts, for women only. 

Holyoke has gained recognition for its dedication to advancing knowledge and empowering women, in addition to its initiatives fostering social justice and intellectual curiosity.

Holyoke is an all-female institution with a diverse student body, of which 55% are non-white. Prominent alums of the institution include Shirley Chisholm, an African American political leader, and Emily Dickinson, a poet.

  • Portland State University

Portland State University (PSU) is a public research institution in Portland, Oregon. Courses in business, engineering, social sciences, urban planning, sustainability, and the university’s work in cities and commitment to sustainability have earned PSU recognition.

PSU received recognition for its Community Watershed Stewardship Program. The project came from the Partner Foundation of Democratic former president Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn Carter. It provides opportunities for apprenticeships, social interactions, and cultural immersion.

Other Ed Settings

Whether or not you attend a liberal arts college will likely be contingent on the type of education and post-graduation career you aspire to attain. 

There are several justifications for contemplating an alternative collegiate environment:

  • Technical Units – If you wish to pursue a career in a technical discipline, a liberal arts degree may not be the most advantageous. You might not acquire practical experience or specific skills as you would in a vocational or technical institution. 
  • Big Classes – If you prefer the secluded environment that large lectures can provide, you might be better off attending a four-year public or private institution of higher education. Particularly during the initial two years, many of your general education courses might accommodate a larger student body. 
  • Flexibility – There is an emphasis on in-person learning and limited class sizes. Hence, attending in-person classes may restrict the range of scheduling and self-paced alternatives compared to an online degree program. 
  • Fraternities – Liberal arts colleges are not particularly rich in sororities and fraternities for prospective members. You may join a variety of other student organizations, however. 


Is American University liberal? Yes, it is considered liberal as it reconsiders applications from applicants with a diverse set of skills. 

To expand your range of interests during your senior year of high school, consider participating in a group activity or a sport.

To learn more about the arts, enroll in drawing, sculpture, drama, or dance courses or contribute to the school newspaper or yearbook. 

Volunteering can convey a powerful message to admissions committees. Contribute to your community’s betterment by volunteering at a food bank, animal shelter, or rest home.

Additionally, admissions committees to liberal arts colleges consider your academic performance; therefore, maintain excellent grades throughout high school. 

Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett has an M.A in health and fitness, is an experienced trainer, and enjoys teaching children about healthy eating habits. She loves to cook nutritious meals for her family.


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