Campus Pride’s Top 25 LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges of 2015

The Campus Pride list is out!

A not-for-profit focused on cultivating LGBTQ student leaders and encouraging pro-LGBTQ policies on college campuses, Campus Pride just released its 2015 rankings of American universities. Each school is rated using the Campus Pride Index benchmarks and has a unique page available on the organization’s campus search, which highlights the pro-LGBTQ programs, policies, and resources that are at that school.

We asked Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride, a few questions about the Index, which the organization has been producing since 2007. Read the full interview to learn more about the Campus Pride Index — and the positive changes it is helping to effect at colleges and universities across the country.

And now, without further ado, here is Campus Pride’s Top 25 LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges of 2015. They’re all so excellent that we are presenting them here in alphabetical order.

Cornell University

The University

Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell is a world-class university. Cornell is known not only for its excellent academics, but also for having first-rate schools of hotel management and agriculture, both of which help foster an undergraduate student body with extraordinarily diverse interests. This means that students are pursuing physics or literature as well as wine-tasting and cheese-making.

LGBTQ Resources

Cornell’s LGBT resource center has many programs, organizations, and events for students. Cornell will also be hosting this year’s IvyQ Conference, a conference focused on creating a pan–Ivy League LGBTQ community.

Elon University

The University

Elon, a mid-sized private school in North Carolina, is known for encouraging its students to put their education to practical ends. Seventy-two percent of all students study abroad at some point during their undergraduate careers, and a whopping 86 percent participate in internships. Elon is particularly known for its programs in business and the health professions.

LGBTQ Resources

Elon’s Gender and LGBTQIA center has an array of resources and programs for students, including a trans-friendly map of 90 gender-neutral bathrooms and a special Lavender Graduation ceremony for LGBTQIA students.

Indiana University–Bloomington

The University

Located in the quintessential university town of Bloomington, which is also known as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the midwest, Indiana University is an excellent public university. Among its academic strengths are the Jacobs School of Music and the programs in business and journalism. IU also has strong Division I sports traditions, particular in men’s basketball.

LGBTQ Resources

IU’s GLBT Student Support Services offer a wide range of resources to students, including maps to gender-neutral bathrooms and a list that highlights local faith communities that are LBGTQ-inclusive. IU even has a GLBT library with books, films, and other media.

Ithaca College

The College

A mid-sized private college in Ithaca, New York, Ithaca College is just miles away from Cornell, also on this list. Ithaca was originally founded as a college of music — and it still has an excellent music program, as well as top-notch programs in communications and physical therapy.

LGBTQ Resources

Ithaca’s Center for LGBT Education, Outreach, and Services offers students many opportunities, including regular speakers, informational workshops, a library, and a film series. The school also has an extensive set of policies and resources designed to help trans students feel safe and comfortable on campus.

Macalester College

The College

Macalester, a small liberal arts college in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is widely regarded as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country. The school places an emphasis on internationalism, multiculturalism, and service, and strongly encourages students to study abroad or at other locations within the U.S. Macalester’s student body has a reputation as one of the most politically progressive in the country.

LGBTQ Resources

[email protected] provides students with numerous groups and activities. Among the activities are a Lavender Reception (at the beginning of the academic year) and a Lavender Graduation, student mixers, and a queer cabaret. Macalester also has a number of trans-friendly policies.

Montclair State University

The University

Montclair State is located in Montclair, New Jersey, about half an hour from New York City. A large public university, Montclair State is known for its programs in business and education and for its ongoing efforts to integrate mobile technology to assist students in all aspects of campus life.

LGBTQ Resources

The LGBTQ center offers students both support and opportunities, from a Safe Space program to a listing of LGBTQ internships. Montclair State further benefits from its proximity to New York City, which boasts a vast assortment of LGBTQ organizations, businesses, and venues.

Princeton University

The University

Princeton’s rightfully acclaimed academics are this Ivy’s primary draw. The university does an excellent job at meeting the financial needs of its lower-income applicants, so don’t let financial worries keep you from applying. Just don’t expect to get in even if you are truly exceptional; Princeton’s acceptance rate has been dropping steadily for decades, and is now below seven percent.

LGBTQ Resources

The LGBT Center at Princeton has a tons of resources and regular events, including a monthly dinner series with LGBT academics.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey–New Brunswick

The University

Rutgers–New Brunswick is New Jersey’s flagship university. The school is unique in having five different interconnected campuses, each with its own sense of identity, and more than 15,000 total students in campus housing. In addition to a full range of strong academic programs — notably including a school of engineering — Rutgers is known for its famous Grease Trucks, a series of food trucks with colorful (and sometime controversial) names that serve hungry students well into the night.

LGBTQ Resources

The Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities has a wide range of resources and organizes regular events — including Gaypril, a set of educational and celebratory events every April. Rutgers also allows students to request housing with other students interested in LGBTQ issues and has several trans-supportive policies and programs.

San Diego State University

The University

A great school for students who are physically active and love the beach, SDSU boasts academic strengths that also align with a fit lifestyle; the university is known for strong programs in kinesiology, nutritional science, and physical therapy. Students often attend classes in flip-flops and tank tops, ready to head straight from the classroom to nearby La Jolla Beach. Don’t make the mistake of thinking life is all fun in the sun, though. Academics at SDSU are fairly rigorous, and you’ll have to mix some hard work in with your time on the beach.

LGBTQ Resources

SDSU was the second university in North America to offer a major in LGBT studies. The Pride Center at SDSU offers a wide variety of resources, events, and student groups. It also works to connect students to the larger world of LGBT resources in San Diego.

Southern Oregon University

The University

Southern Oregon University, located in Ashland, Oregon, is a mid-sized public university. It’s known to have particularly strong programs in the fine arts, performing arts, and theater. The school is home to a center for Shakespeare Studies, which allows students to minor or even major in Shakespeare. Southern Oregon also has an ongoing relationship with NASA, a draw to students with a more scientific bent.

LGBTQ Resources

The Queer Resource Center at Southern Oregon sponsors many events for LGBTQ students and their allies. The Center is home to a Queer Library for both education and entertainment, and it has a gender-inclusive housing program.

The Ohio State University

The University

The Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio, is the second-largest university in the country — so you’ll find anything you could want there: a strong sports culture, great academic programs, and every kind of student you could imagine. Couple that with the midwestern friendliness and a city that has a growing reputation as a gay mecca, and you have a great destination for any LGBTQ student looking for a high-quality, big public university.

LGBTQ Resources

OSU’s Multicultural Center is home to its LGBTQ Initiatives, which, in turn, house a variety of organizations and “Q’mmunitites” while also sponsoring events, including a signature LGBTQ event almost every month of the academic year.

The Pennsylvania State University

The University

Penn State is a school with tremendous school spirit: Students rally behind sports teams, and there is a strong sense of shared community. One of the country’s largest public universities, Penn State has something for everyone academically, socially, and extracurricularly. The Honors College is excellent, and the school has strong programs in education, nursing, and a wide range of sciences, among others.

LGBTQ Resources

The LGBTQA Student Association at Penn State offers lots of resources and events, including regular student discussion groups and a mentorship program in which graduate students mentor undergraduate LGBTQA students.

Tufts University

The University

A mid-sized private university in the Boston metropolitan area, Tufts is a strong and increasingly selective school. It’s known for having an excellent program in international relations, and also boasts rigorous engineering and and health-related programs. Boston itself is a big draw for students, and Medford is next to very-hip Sommerville, site of some of Boston’s best new bars and restaurants.

LGBTQ Resources

In addition to the requisite range of resources, clubs, and events for LGBT students, Tufts LGBT center hosts the Tufts Queer History Project which gives a timeline of major LGBT events over the past 50 years at Tufts.

University of Colorado at Boulder

The University

A progressive city just an hour or so from Rocky Mountain National Park, Boulder itself is a major attraction for many students. The school, Colorado’s flagship public university, has strong programs in music, psychology, and biology. The university also encourages study abroad (sponsoring more than 300 programs) and experiential learning, in the latter case taking advantage of its proximity to the Rocky Mountains for fieldwork in biology, geology, and other fields.

LGBTQ Resources

Boulder's GLBTQ resource center has a very full schedule, with organizations meeting every weeknight on campus during the academic year. UC Boulder also has scholarships for LGBTQIA students.

University of Louisville

The University

The university is known for a strong medical school (where the world’s first successful heart transplant was performed) and excellent programs in health-related fields. Popular student events include the homecoming tradition of the nearly naked mile, in which students shed excess layers of clothing before they race, and donating those clothes to local charities. Louisville’s social scene centers around sporting events (especially men’s basketball) and a variety of parties.

LGBTQ Resources

Louisville’s LGBT center hosts a range of events, including monthly Monday Mixers and an annual drag show/fundraiser called PINK! The center also sponsors a number of organizations and helps connect LGBT students to important resources.

University of Maine at Machias

The University

A small school on the coast of Maine, the University of Maine at Machias offers just 16 undergraduate majors, but takes advantage of its location; among the majors are marine biology, environmental studies, and recreation management. The surrounding area allows students to engage in a dozens of outdoor activities, with easy access to both the ocean and the mountains.

LGBTQ Resources

Though as a small school it can’t possibly offer the range of events and organizations that can be found at some of the larger schools on this list, the University of Maine at Machias has a full complement of pro-LGBT policies on the books and is committed to providing a safe, welcoming enviroment to LGBT students.

University of Maryland–College Park

The University

As the state’s flagship public university, Maryland at College Park has a variety of academic programs and extracurricular activities. Particularly noteworthy is the school’s excellent Honors College, one of several Living and Learning programs that allow students with similar academic interests to live and study together — and as a result, to form smaller, tightly-knit communities within the larger university.

LGBTQ Resources

Maryland's LGBT Equity Center offers students several resources and regular events, including a Tuesday Queer Luncheon, a Lavender Graduation, and an LGBT scholarship.

University of Massachusetts–Amherst

The University

As the state’s flagship public university, UMass offers a diverse range of majors and clubs. Particular academic strengths include business, education, and engineering. The school is located in western Massachusetts amid a number of gay-friendly towns, including Amherst and Northampton, the latter of which hosts its own Pride celebration every summer.

LGBTQ Resources

The university’s Stonewall Center offers a range of events, clubs, and resources and takes advantage of the Five College Consortium to highight UMass’s excellent polices and programs, opportunities for LGBTQ students at other colleges in the consortium, and resources in the many neighboring towns.

University of Minnesota Twin Cities

The University

Located in the famously gay-friendly twin cities, the University of Minnesota is known for strong academics across the board. Minnesota is a top research university and boasts impressive athletic programs, as well, particularly in football, wrestling, men’s and women’s basketball, and ice hockey.

LGBTQ Resources

The GLBTA Programs Office gives students access to a wide range of programs and resources, including a number of academic awards and scholarships and specific programs for LGBTQ students of color and trans students.

University of Oregon

The University

Known for an undergraduate student body that skews progressive and hipster, the University of Oregon also attracts students excited to take advantage of Eugene’s easy access to great sites of outdoor recreation. The school itself has strong programs in architecture, business, journalism, and the hard sciences, and also has some very strong Division I sports teams, especially track and field and cross country and, in recent years, football and men’s basketball.

LGBTQ Resources

The University of Oregon has a number of LGBT organizations as well as an LGBT Education and Support Services Program that offers ten scholarships a year, sponsors numerous events, and helps connect students to a wide range of resources.

University of Pennsylvania

The University

Penn is probably the most “pre-professional” of the Ivies, with exceptional programs in nursing, business, and engineering, along with a top-notch college of arts and sciences. The school combines the advantages of an Ivy League institution with the benefits of living in a big city, and Philadelphia is a place filled with great opportunities for students.

LGBTQ Resources

The LGBT Center at Penn includes a study space with a kitchen, library, and printer. The Center also offers many resources, sponsored events, and a display on LGBT history at Penn.

University of Vermont

The University

In keeping with Vermont’s reputation as a progressive state, its flagship university is particularly strong in environmental studies as well as animal science and health-related fields. The university is also a higher-education leader in campus sustainability measures. Vermont’s hockey team is one of the best in Division I sports.

LGBTQ Resources

The LGBTQA Center at Vermont sponsors wonderful events, including dances and biweekly crockpot dinners. There are many LGBT groups and organizations on campus, and the Center works to connect students with local resources. The Center also has a program to train students to become LGBTQA Advocates.

University of Washington

The University

The University of Washington is a premier research university with strong programs in biology, engineering, and nursing. The progressive, gay-friendly city of Seattle is a big draw for a lot of students, as are the various opportunities for outdoor recreation offered by the surrounding area. The school shows its love for the environment with strong sustainability policies and is a perennial sports powerhouse, with particularly strong programs in football and rowing.

LGBTQ Resources

The Q Center at Washington has a library, an online advice column called Dear Queer, and a mentoring program that connects students with student mentors as well as faculty, staff, and alumni. The Center also sponsors numerous events, hosts clubs, and works to connect student with local resources, both within the college and in the larger Seattle community.

University of Wisconsin–Green Bay

The University

This university, nicknamed Eco U, was founded as a school that would focus on sustainability, though it has since added many majors, including a strong business program. Many of the school’s majors are interdisciplinary and focus on solving particular problems. The campus itself is green and park-like, overlooking Lake Michigan.

LGBTQ Resources

The Pride Center sponsors a number of groups and works to connect students to resources on campus, in Green Bay, and throughout the state. Many of the sponsored groups and events are focused on giving back to the community via food and clothing drives.

Williams College

The College

One of the best liberals arts colleges in the country, Williams is in scenic, college-rich western Massachusetts. Known for providing high-quality education across the board, Williams has particularly strong programs in the fine arts. Many classes at Williams are in the style of Oxbridge tutorials, capped at ten students and meeting with the professors only once a week. These tutorials are work-intensive, with weekly student paper presentations critiqued by the professor and classmates.

LGBTQ Resources

Williams sponsors a number of LGBTQA-centered groups and events, including monthly lunches, a peer-to-peer support network, and a queer student union. Williams strives to integrate LGBTQ students into all facets of the school, including sports teams and social clubs.

You can learn more about each college by visiting Noodle college profiles. For more advice on finding an LGBTQ-friendly school, read articles and answers by Noodle Expert and Campus Pride founder Shane Windmeyer.

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