Laura Nelson Lof
8 College Lists

The 46 Most LGBTQ+ Friendly Colleges

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What’s Covered:

 

A recent study showed that if students feel they belong at their school at the end of their first year, they have higher rates of personal and academic success. While this study looked specifically at racial minority and first-generation students, the overall message is that a sense of belonging impacts the well-being of all students. 

 

It can be a challenge for LGBTQ students to find a sense of belonging, so they may approach the college search more carefully, considering differences in colleges’ housing options, public safety, support groups, social opportunities, and institutional policies.

 

In this post, we’ll go over the most LGBTQ-friendly schools and share resources on how to find the best fit. 

 

Note: We recognize that the acronym LGBTQ doesn’t encompass all gender and sexual identities; you may also encounter terminology such as LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA, LGBTQIA2S+, and many others. That said, most schools’ LGBTQ resources aim to include a wide range of gender and sexual identities. This post is in partnership with Campus Pride and features schools that have been thoroughly vetted for their institutional support and inclusivity.

 

What Makes a School LGBTQ-Friendly?

 

 

Since 2007, Campus Pride, a national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups, has been working for safer campuses and learning environments for LGBTQI+ students. 

 

Campus Pride Q Research Institute for Higher Education maintains an online database known as The Campus Pride Index. This resource is free and available for students and families to find schools with an LGBTQ+ positive living/learning environment. 

 

For a school to be LGBTQ+ friendly, there must be real evidence of institutional support and resources, not just visibility. 

 

Each school in the Campus Pride Index is evaluated in terms of campus policies, programs, and practices. Campus Pride refers to eight LGBTQ-friendly factors in their evaluation process:

 

  • LGBTQ Policy Inclusion
  • LGBTQ Support and Institutional Commitment
  • LGBTQ Academic life
  • LGBTQ Student Life
  • LGBTQ Housing
  • LGBTQ Campus Safety
  • LGBTQ Counseling and Health
  • LGBTQ Recruitment and Retention Efforts

 

The Campus Pride Index assigns a score from one star to five stars. Campus Pride considers this as a continuum of progress for inclusive LGBTQ+ and ally policies. 

 

Keep in mind that schools earning three or four stars might be doing important work in tough places (non-LGBTQ+ friendly areas), so don’t discount them completely. A lower star score may still be seen as progressive in certain states or areas of the country. 

 

For students going back to school as an adult learner, two-year colleges can also be a good option. We’ll be focusing on four-year colleges since this is our specialty, but you can check out Campus Pride’s rankings of the most LGBTQ-friendly community colleges.

 

The 46 Most LGBTQ+ Friendly Colleges

 

These are the 46 institutions with the highest five-star rating on The Campus Pride Index. For a more curated list by region, check out Campus Pride’s 2021 Best of the Best LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges.

 

Click on the school name to see the in-depth Campus Pride rating.

 

School Name

State

Undergrad Enrollment

Acceptance Rate

Harvey Mudd College

CA

900

14%

San Diego State University

CA

31,086

34%

Stanford University

CA

6,366

4%

University of Colorado at Boulder

CO

30,300

78%

University of Northern Colorado

CO

8,494

91%

Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

IL

8,299

66%

Indiana University, Bloomington

IN

32,986

78%

Purdue University – West Lafayette

IN

34,920

60%

Kansas State University

KS

16,257

95%

University of Kentucky

KY

22,227

96%

Northern Kentucky University

KY

11,507

90%

University of Louisville

KY

15,927

69%

Tufts University

MA

6,114

15%

University of Massachusetts – Amherst

MA

24,233

64%

University of Maryland – College Park

MD

30,875

44%

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

MI

31,329

23%

Macalester College

MN

2,098

32%

Augsburg University

MN

2.512

76%

Minnesota State University – Mankato

MN

12,765

63%

Elon University

NC

6,291

78%

Guilford College

NC

1,420

75%

University of Nebraska at Kearney

NE

4,385

85%

Princeton University

NJ

5,422

6%

Rutgers University – New Brunswick

NJ

35,844

61%

Montclair State University

NJ

16,687

76%

Ithaca College

NY

4,957

73%

Hofstra University

NY

6,120

69%

Kenyon College

OH

1,747

34%

Ohio State University

OH

46,984

54%

Kent State University

OH

21,621

86%

Portland State University

OR

18,959

96%

University of Oregon

OR

18,045

82%

Southern Oregon University

OR

4,449

78%

Lehigh University

PA

5,293

32%

Pennsylvania State University – University Park

PA

39,809

76%

University of Pennsylvania

PA

9,872

8%

University of Pittsburgh (main campus)

PA

19,197

57%

University of Texas at Dallas

TX

21,187

79%

Texas Tech University

TX

33,269

69%

Virginia Wesleyan University

VA

1,274

74%

University of Vermont

VT

11,136

67%

Washington State University

WA

25,470

76%

University of Washington

WA

35,582

52%

University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire

WI

9,803

82%

University of Wisconsin – Green Bay

WI

8,370

85%

University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

WI

20,213

77%

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Top LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges

 

Among the schools with 5-star ratings, we’ve pulled our top 12 based on academic rigor, costs/financial aid, and graduation rates. Click on the school name to learn more about the school and what it takes to get accepted.

 

Harvey Mudd College 

Location: Claremont, CA

Undergraduate Enrollment: 900

Acceptance Rate: 14%

 

Harvey Mudd scored five stars from Campus Pride for their inclusive policies, housing and residence life, and campus safety. Students have access to an LGBTQ living space, counseling, and active training for staff on LGBTQ issues.

 

Kenyon College 

Location: Gambier, OH

Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,747

Acceptance Rate: 34%

 

Kenyon’s leadership is committed to an open, supportive environment for LGBTQ students, staff, faculty, and allies. In addition to their Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Kenyon partners with several community organizations to host events and outreach. 

 

Macalester College

Location: St. Paul, MN 

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,098

Acceptance Rate: 32%

 

As an institution, Macalester believes that education is a transformative experience and it works to create a supportive environment for people from all cultures and backgrounds. Appreciating the contributions and experiences of social identity groups and differences in power dynamics is very much in sync with Macalester’s value on social justice.

 

Ohio State University

Location: Columbus, OH

Undergraduate Enrollment: 46,984

Acceptance Rate: 54%

 

OSU students have strong institutional support with a wide variety of campus resources, including LGBTQ-friendly medical and mental health practitioners. Trans-inclusive student health insurance covers counseling and hormone replacement therapy.

 

Princeton University

Location: Princeton, NJ

Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,422

Acceptance Rate: 6% 

 

Princeton checks all the boxes for LGBTQ campus safety. There are LGBTQ student/ally groups for undergraduates, graduate students, as well as groups for faculty and staff.

 

Purdue University

Location: West Lafayette, IN

Undergraduate Enrollment: 33,872

Acceptance Rate: 60% 

 

Purdue offers gender-inclusive housing for new and returning students as well as single occupancy bathrooms and showers. New faculty and staff training in gender-identity and sexual orientation issues. 

 

Pennsylvania State University

Location: State College, PA

Undergraduate Enrollment: 40,639

Acceptance Rate: 75% 

 

Penn State ranks high in LGBTQ counseling and health services, campus safety, and academic life. The Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity is an important and valued resource for the community. 

 

Tufts University

Location: Medford, MA

Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,097

Acceptance Rate: 15%

 

The campus and community environment at Tufts is welcoming and inclusive. The Rainbow House offers social events and programming for students and allies. Many students, staff, and faculty identify as LGBTQ and there are a variety of course offerings and study opportunities on gender and sexuality. 

 

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Location: Amherst, MA

Undergraduate Enrollment: 24,209

Acceptance Rate: 64%

 

UMass Amherst has a nearly perfect score on the Campus Pride report card. The Stonewall Center is a welcoming community resource for all students, faculty, and staff. The institution is highly supportive and inclusive of the LGBTQ community on campus. 

 

University of Michigan

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Undergraduate Enrollment: 31,266

Acceptance Rate: 23%

 

From academics to student life, UMich provides a significant number of resources, support, and a welcoming campus environment for LGBTQ students. Their gender-inclusive policies extend to student housing, medical and mental health services, and all members of their community. 

 

University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Undergraduate Enrollment: 10,019

Acceptance Rate: 8%

 

Penn ranks high on the scorecard for recruitment and retention of LGBTQ students. The university regularly participates in LGBTQ admission fairs and provides an orientation and mentoring program for first-year students.

 

Stanford University

Location: Stanford, CA

Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,996

Acceptance Rate: 4%

 

As a renowned research university, Stanford ensures that its academic offerings include LGBTQ studies, courses, and curricula, and actively recruits faculty for LGBTQ scholarship. Student life and student housing have multiple gender-inclusive options and organizations.

 

Other Schools to Consider

 

There are 34 other schools on the Campus Pride Index that scored 5 stars, and we wanted to highlight a few more of them here, especially those with higher acceptance rates and those located in different parts of the US. Some of the colleges and universities on the list and highlighted below may be a surprise. Many are in areas of the country that are more politically and religiously conservative, but the schools themselves offer exceptional support to LGBTQ+ students. 

 

Indiana University

Location: Bloomington, IN

Undergraduate Enrollment: 33,300

Acceptance Rate: 72%

 

IU has a nearly perfect five star score on each of the eight inclusion factors. From organizations and social events to inclusive career services, Indiana University has much to offer as a LGBTQ-friendly university. 

 

University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire

Location: Eau Claire, WI  

Undergraduate Enrollment: 10,068

Acceptance Rate: 82%

 

UW-EC is highly ranked as the most LGBTQ-friendly college in Wisconsin for the past three years. Their Gender & Sexuality Resource Center is actively involved in policy development and structural change to ensure that the university continues to provide an excellent education in a progressive environment. 

 

Kansas State University

Location: Manhattan, KS

Undergraduate Enrollment: 17,210

Acceptance Rate: 96%

 

K-State opened their LGBT Resource Center in 2010 for all members of the campus community and the region. The Center promotes equity, social justice, and respect through programs and outreach. KSU scores high on the Index for institutional support, student life, and public safety. 

 

Kent State University

Location: Kent, OH

Undergraduate Enrollment: 22,262

Acceptance Rate: 86% 

 

Kent State’s LGBTQ Resource Center provides students with opportunities such as the QUEST Mentorship Program, the LGBTQ Library, and an emergency fund. The Center supports groups for LGBTQ students of color, graduate students, and Trans*Fusion. 

 

Montclair State University

Location: Montclair, NJ

Undergraduate Enrollment: 16,374

Acceptance Rate: 76%

 

MSU offers LGBTQ residential housing and Stonewall Suites in addition to several student groups and organizations for both queer and allied students. The LGBTQ Center conducts training throughout the state for schools, colleges, and universities through the Lavender Leaders Program. 

 

Northern Kentucky University

Location: Highland Heights, KY

Undergraduate Enrollment: 11,882

Acceptance Rate: 90%

 

According to a recent student survey, one quarter of the NKU identify as LGBTQA. The school offers a wide range of support services and resources for student belonging and success. 

 

Augsburg University

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,300

Acceptance Rate: 59%

 

Augsburg University’s policies are LGBTQ-inclusive for students, faculty, and staff. They also rank high in terms of academic life, including an LGBTQ Studies program. Augsburg is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) that has recently affirmed LGBTQ membership and clergy, including marriage ceremonies in their churches. The school affirms that commitment and has created an open and welcoming campus with gender-inclusive housing with single-occupancy and community living options with other LGBTQ students.

 

Guilford College

Location: Greensboro, NC

Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,525

Acceptance Rate: 75%

 

Guilford is home to the Bayard Rustin Center for LGBTQA Activism, Education, and Reconciliation. The Center exists to affirm the lives, histories, and experiences of LGBTQ students, faculty, staff, and allies. Guilford was founded as a school of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, which is the name of their school mascot. Like Augsburg, they are also on Campus Pride’s list of religious schools living up to inclusive values. 

 

Learn more about Campus Pride’s List of 10 Religious Schools Living Up to LGBTQ- Inclusive Values.

 

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Location: Kearney, NE

Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,429

Acceptance Rate: 85%

 

UNK is proud to go beyond inclusion and acceptance to create a welcoming and affirming community for all. The institution considers this to be as important as its academic program in preparing students to live and work in an increasingly diverse global society.

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

College Vine’s chancing engine is a great tool to help you work through your list of prospective schools. You can see your chances of acceptance at over 1500 schools, including the ones on this list. You can also filter for schools based on your preferences for academics, campus environment, and more.



Check out Campus Pride and The Campus Pride Index to find all schools with a report card and come back to CollegeVine to learn more about each school – all for free! (One day, we hope to have Campus Pride ratings integrated into our school database). You should also read Campus Pride’s Ultimate Queer College Guide for further considerations in choosing a school as an LGBTQ+ student.


Short Bio
An alum of the University of Iowa, Laura majored in political science with a related field of psychology. She's worked in the non-profit sector throughout her career. She writes from her home in Iowa surrounded by cornfields and prairies.

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