Updated: May 1, 2017
Choosing a college is an overwhelming process in and of itself. But for LGBTQ identified folks, the task is all the more intimidating. To succeed academically it’s important to succeed socially; it’s important to think holistically about your well being while in school. We at College Choice have assuaged some of the difficulty in the search by researching the country’s fifty best colleges and universities for LGBTQ.
What does “best” mean exactly? Well, there are several key things LGBTQ folks should consider. Foremost, the university’s non-discrimination policy should include gender expression and sexual orientation. This information is available on all school websites, and if they don’t explicitly promise to protect you, move on. Other things to look for range from comprehensive health care (trans students should have hormone therapy included) to campus safety hate prevention, a faculty board who is queer and trans-inclusive, a curriculum that is representative of LGBTQ voices and histories, and a vibrant Resource Center that facilitates a diversity of events, education, outreach, and programming.
A quick note about the acronym: We realized that acronym “LGBTQ” may not explicitly include your identifier. We don’t mean to be exclusive, but used “LGBTQ” for the sake of consistency. Please know when we say “LGBTQ” we mean those who identify anywhere along the queer spectrum.
Another quick note: The tuition rates below are in-state rates. To find out-of-state tuition rates, please visit the school’s webpage.
What are the Best Colleges and Universities for LGBTQ Folks?
Below are the nation’s fifty best schools for LGBTQ identified students. While some schools are renowned Ivy Leagues, others are small liberal arts colleges, and still others large public schools, they all share one thing in common despite the difference of size and model: they take care of their LGBTQ students. Here at College Choice we sought out those schools that protect their LGBTQ students through policy inclusion, those that offer a number of resources and services for LGBTQ students—from queer-specific health care and counseling to safe spaces and queer centers—and those schools that intentionally promote LGBTQ perspectives in their curriculum.
From there we collated and compared the academic reputation, student satisfaction, affordability, and average annual salary of graduates from these schools across the country to create a definitive ranking of the nation’s fifty best colleges and universities for LGBTQ people. We chose programs with the most renowned academic reputation and from those pared the list down to those with high retention rates—a reflection of student satisfaction—added those with the most economical accessibility, and finally we included the averages of early career salaries (care of PayScale) to arrive at a list marked by thorough research and extensive data aggregation. Our figures come from the university and colleges’ websites as well as nationally recognized Campus Pride Index, U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Tuition: $45,320
Boasting one of the most vibrant, active, and extensive LGBTQ student centers in the nation, Princeton University tops our list for best campus for LGBTQ students. At Princeton queer students will find education, social, and supportive programming that is designed by the LGBTQ community; a busy calendar full of queer lectures, discussions, film, and art; a huge LGBTQ library; and much more.
Princeton’s support of the LGBTQ community is visible in several arenas, from housing and residence to its campus safety crew, counseling, health services, and scholarship fund allocations. This means your opportunities at Princeton are multitude. You can choose to be matched with a LGBTQ student (or a LGBTQ friendly student) as a roommate. You have access to free, anonymous HIV and STI testing. There are a plethora of clubs, organizations, and mentoring opportunities specific to the LGBTQ community. And, trans students will have full access to insurance that covers counseling and hormone replacement therapy delivered by trans-inclusive trained staff.
The mark of a genuinely LGBTQ inclusive school is found in its efforts to affirm and encourage the LGBTQ perspective in all areas of college life. Princeton offers a Gender and Sexuality certificate that can be paired with an undergraduate major or with a graduate degree. This program has a history spanning more than thirty years of scholarship on the intersections of identity, power, and politics.
Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Princeton University is, hands down, one of the best places in the country for LGBTQ students.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 96
Average Tuition: $48,452
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is most known for its research contributions to and training in the physical sciences and engineering, as well as being the alma mater of hundreds of Nobel laureates, Rhodes Scholars, MacArthur Fellows, astronauts, and Fields Medalists. But not only does MIT maintain a reputation for its academics, it is more and more often recognized for the number of services it provides its LGBTQ students.
The LGBTQ student life at MIT is among the best in the country. Not only are there a number of queer organizations and students clubs for undergraduates, but graduate students can get involved in LGBTQ extracurriculars too. Additionally, MIT has a queer social fraternity and sorority, a social calendar pocked with regular queer events, a consistent educational platform on trans issues, and LGBTQ inclusive career services.
Not surprisingly, MIT emphasizes and encourages leadership in its undergraduates. They help cultivate student leaders of color within the LGBTQ community through programs and events while also spotlighting the intersectionality of race, gender, ability, and sexuality. Finally, MIT challenges students, faculty, and staff alike to reflect on their own prejudices and privileges, especially as they pronounce themselves in academia.
MIT is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
College Choice Score: 95
Average Tuition: $8,822
With an emphatic commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusivity, the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire is home to diverse cultural programming, support services, and a LGBTQ Resource Center that works hard to keep the campus accountable to its stated commitment to equality. This same center also provides expert training (called Safe Space Training) to peers, students, staff, and faculty on a wide range of gender and sexuality issues, including gender identity, erasure, heteronormativity, and the queer legal landscape.
And of course, UW Eau Claire hosts the annual Eau Queer Film Festival, an event that has taken place each year since 2010. Promoting equality, inspiring activism, and educating the community, this queer film festival not only showcases LGBTQ documentaries, features, comedies, and shorts, they host discussions, sometimes with the filmmakers themselves.
Not only do UW Eau Claire’s LGBTQ students have access to this great cultural event each year, but regular life on campus is comprised of a queer resource center, an annual drag ball, and an inclusive curriculum that includes classes on queer theory, sexual politics, the sociology of sexualities, and gender and sex in history. LGBTQ students are also supported through institutional policy, faculty training, gender-inclusive housing, and much more.
The University of Wisconsin Eau Claire is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of Pennsylvania
College Choice Score: 94.8
Average Tuition: $51,464
The University of Pennsylvania receives near perfect marks from Campus Pride, especially for its health, counseling, housing, student life, and campus safety sectors. The heart of LGBTQ life at Penn is found in the resource center, where students can take part in workshop and outreach programs, connect with a queer mentor, apply for travel fund assistance, make a name change, and get involved in one of the many organizations and student clubs. Queer students who are also international students, Jewish, athletes, or studying law, medicine, education, or business will all find an organization that specifically serves their unique needs.
Penn is a notably trans inclusive university. From the initial program and housing applications, where trans students can choose “gender neutral” to opt of the binary to a non-discrimination policy that explicitly protects trans students, Penn seeks to ensure all of its students are safe and served well. They also have a name change initiative, dozens of neutral bathrooms, and an extensive health care plan. Trans students not only have access to primary medical care, but gender-affirming hormone therapy, sensitive gynecological and sexual health care, and referrals to local surgeons, endocrinologists, other specialists, and trans competent providers.
A private, Ivy League research institution of approximately 25k students, the University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
University of California Los Angeles
College Choice Score: 93.4
Average Tuition: $12,836
The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) puts you in direct proximity to one of the most queer friendly cities in the world. Los Angeles has a huge LGBTQ center, hosts one of the country’s biggest Pride festivals, and is home to dozens of gay bars, restaurants, and cafes. UCLA is thus a microcosm of the greater LA cultural landscape. Dozens of queer organizations, events, outreach opportunities, and programming exist on campus for LGBTQ students and allies alike.
The Williams Institute (on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy) is an integral research center on the UCLA campus. Current research initiatives includes an investigation into LGBTQ discrimination post-marriage equality. Concurrently, UCLA’s greater Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies Program is creating the first PhD Program in LGBTQQ Studies. As an undergraduate, you may not think this directly affects you but, in fact, with so few universities giving financial, structural, and administrative support to queer studies, UCLA is making a huge statement with this graduate program and its research priorities. For that reason—and for its array of LGBTQ centric resources, services, and retention efforts—UCLA tops our list for best universities for LGBTQ identified students.
Globally and nationally ranked by U.S News & World Report, Forbes, and the Times Higher Education among others, UCLA is accredited by the Western Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of Michigan
College Choice Score: 92.6
Average Tuition: $13,856
The Spectrum Center at the University of Michigan houses over twenty independent, student-led organizations for LGBTQ students. There’s an asexual visibility group, a coalition for queer and trans people of color, a group for LGBTQ students who are in a STEM field, a queer business student meet up, and more. In addition to this active social atmosphere, the University of Michigan supports its LGBTQ students through scholarships, holistic healthcare, ally development training, and academic inclusion efforts. Regarding the latter, the University of Michigan leads the country in its Women and Gender Studies program, which offers a LGBTQ Studies minor as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees in Women’s Studies.
The University of Michigan excels in many ways in its support of the LGBTQ community: its institutional support, student life experience, housing and residential life, campus safety priorities, counseling and health services, and retention efforts all prove the university’s commitment to safety and inclusion.
The University of Michigan—located in one of the most queer friendly cities in the country, Ann Arbor—is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
College Choice Score: 92
Average Tuition: $50,953
Cornell’s LGBTQ Resource Center is over twenty years old, and its history of providing outreach, education, support, and advocacy for the LGBTQ community clearly demonstrates the larger university’s efforts to create an inclusive, safe space for all its students. Most notable, Cornell’s healthcare and counseling services include a range of resources for queer and trans students. Cornell offers LGBTQ counseling and support groups, trans-inclusive trained counseling staff, free and anonymous HIV and STI testing, and trans-inclusive health policies that cover ongoing counseling as well as hormone replacement therapy.
LGBTQ students can also expect a number of other guarantees from Cornell: queer specific scholarships, mentoring programs with other LGBTQ students, rainbow graduations, a bunch of gender neutral bathrooms, and LGBTQ career services as well as a LGBTQ alumni group. Like many of the other schools on our ranking—though unlike many of colleges and universities nationwide—Cornell offers both an undergraduate and graduate minor in LGBTQ studies. Students can take classes on an array of queer and gender topics, from masculinities to a global history of love, gender and the brain, and cross-cultural perspectives on sex and gender.
Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Cornell University is a private, Ivy League institution based in Ithaca, New York.
Harvey Mudd College
College Choice Score: 92
Average Tuition: $52,916
Because Harvey Mudd College is part of The Claremont Colleges system, it shares its Queer Resource Center (QRC) with the seven other undergraduate and graduate schools but is primarily based on the Pomona College campus. The QRC prides itself (pun intended) on not just being a safe space for its queer communities, but a fun and laidback space where students can hang out together. The QRC has over 1k queer-related books and movies that can be checked out for free, meeting rooms and lounge areas for group meet ups, and staff who can point you to the outreach, education, health service, or advocacy resource you may need.
Harvey Mudd College consistently ranks as one of the best schools for LGBTQ folks. There are many reasons this is the case, but primarily it is because of the school’s explicit and extensive policy inclusions, its many housing options for queer students, its highly trained campus safety staff, and its strict procedures for reporting LGBTQ related bias incidents and hate crimes.
Harvey Mudd College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. A private liberal arts school that specializes in hard sciences, engineering, and mathematics education, HMC is nationally ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly.
The Ohio State University
College Choice Score: 91.6
Average Tuition: $10,037
The Ohio State University houses its own, full Sexuality Studies Department, through which students can major or minor in the undergraduate interdisciplinary program. The classes students will have the opportunity include the history of modern sexuality, adolescent parenthood, AIDS facts and issues, literature classes on James Baldwin or Audre Lorde, sex and gender in the ancient world, and much more. And for those who are not looking for an academic approach to their LGBTQ experience, Ohio State University offers a bunch of student cohort groups, leadership opportunities, education programs, and signature events through the Multicultural Center.
Like many of the larger, renowned universities on our list, Ohio State University has vocally committed to highlighting the intersectionality of identities. So queer students can anticipate a campus experience brimming with options and opportunities; there’s a racial equity queer group that connects racial justice issues with LGBTQ equality struggles. There’s also a students of color “q*munnity” that seeks to foster community among students living at the intersections of race, sexuality, and gender. However you want to get involved, even if you want to stay behind the scenes, OSU has a safe space for you.
Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Ohio State University is located in Columbus, Ohio.
Johns Hopkins University
College Choice Score: 91.2
Average Tuition: $50,410
LGBTQ life at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is distinctly organized into a four-tier structure: community support, education, advocacy, and networking. Community support of the queer community entails an exhaustive interpersonal support system in which students can connect with staff—counseling or otherwise—as well peers, even opting into the peer mentoring program. Johns Hopkins emphasis on sex and gender education means there are a number of training programs in place for staff and faculty. This includes understanding sex and gender identity, how to be an ally, and understanding orientation. JHU’s advocacy work includes its active Diversity Leadership Council. And, finally, LGBTQ networking at JHU brings together students on campus as well as other queer groups in the Baltimore and DC areas.
Specifically, trans students at JHU can expect gender inclusive housing, a thorough non-discrimination policy, and a health insurance plan that provides coverage for transition-related health care. There are also numerous gender neutral bathrooms across campus, and a university-wide system that makes name change swift and extensive.
Johns Hopkins University, based in Baltimore, is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Washington University St. Louis
College Choice Score: 90.4
Average Tuition: $49,770
At Washington University in St. Louis students are introduced to innumerable leadership and community building opportunities, for WashU is known for its emphasis on leadership and its Greek life. In fact, nearly 40 percent of undergraduates are members of a Greek fraternity or sorority, so the university has gone to lengths to ensure that LGBTQ students have equal, fair, and welcoming access to the Greek experience. And in terms of inciting leadership among queer students, WashU has cultivated many avenues of participation and promotion. For example, Destination Q is two-day retreat for LGBTQ students to explore identity and leadership development.
Supplementing these programs are literally dozens of other queer-led organizations and clubs that serve the LGBTQ community of WashU. This includes a transcending gender group, a social justice center, a queer alumni organization, a diversity affairs council, and more. And, of course, in proximity to campus there are even more ways to connect with the greater LGBTQ community, through queer women’s choir and men’s choirs, a bisexual alliance group, a queer business guild, a youth peer mentoring organization, and much, much more.
Accredited by the Commission of the North Central Association, Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) is a private research university. They have received accolades from U.S. News & World Report, Wall Street Journal, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.
College Choice Score: 90.4
Average Tuition: $51,265
Through Duke University’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity LGBTQ students have access to a dozen queer clubs that serve the diverse populations of the greater Duke campus, including students at the divinity school, athletes, med students, law students, those who identify as asexual, queer students of color, and queer women. Similarly, Duke holds a number of annual events celebrating queer identity and spotlighting ongoing inequities. For example, each year Duke hosts its own Coming Out Day in conjunction with the National Coming Out Day observance. Duke also honors the Transgender Day of Remembrance and World AIDS Day.
Duke University is known for its academic and research contributions to the study of gender, sexuality, and feminist studies. At both the undergraduate and graduate level students can investigate the intersections of gender, sexuality, ethics, culture, race, and human rights. And currently, through the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies department, research initiatives are allocated to transgender studies. Several symposiums, lectures, and presentations are made available to all students. Outside of academic life, Duke is also frequently lauded for its queer-sensitive campus safety measures, its LGBTQ student recruitment and retention efforts, and its holistic student health plans.
Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is located in Durham, North Carolina.
University of Maryland College Park
College Choice Score: 90.2
Average Tuition: $10,181
With high marks from Campus Pride, the University of Maryland College Park (UMD) has one of the most expansive and inclusive policy statements on our ranking. Their non-discrimination statement includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Health insurance coverage extends to staff and faculty’s same-sex partners. And there is an accessible and simple process for students to change their names and gender identity on university records and document.
Through the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity Center on UMD’s campus, LGBTQ students have access to community (and community building) and other student networks, leadership opportunities, education and outreach programming, and several helpful resources. The Equity Center also administers a scholarship each academic year to a full-time student who has demonstrated a commitment to promoting civil rights for and preventing discrimination against LGBTQ people. Affordable, welcoming, and academically renowned, the University of Maryland is a great option for queer students.
Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the University of Maryland College Park is a public research university of approximately 30k undergraduates.
University of California Davis
College Choice Score: 89.4
Average Tuition: $14,046
At the University of California Davis (UC Davis), ally training plays a big role in fostering a welcoming, inclusive, and knowledgeable campus. Through their LGBTQIA Resource Center a number of trainings are made available campus-wide, such as Ally as a Verb: Deepening LGBTQIA Allyship, which is a highly interactive workshop for those who want to better understand cis-sexism, allosexism, and heterosexism. Other resources, those specifically for UC Davis’ queer and trans students, include access to crisis hotlines, gender inclusive restrooms, free HIV testing, counseling, support groups, and even study abroad resources.
According to the Campus Pride Index, UC Davis gets perfect or near perfect marks for its LGBTQ institutional support, academic life, student life, campus safety protocols, and its expansive counseling and health services. Not only can UC Davis students join a queer fraternity or sorority, they can live in queer or gender-inclusive housing, participate in peer mentoring, attend rainbow graduations, and more. UC Davis’ broad understanding of what makes for an inclusive campus pocked with opportunities for LGBTQ students clearly shows in its many programs, services, education platforms, and outreach events.
UC Davis is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Considered a “Public Ivy,” it is well ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, ARWU, and Times Higher Education.
College Choice Score: 89.4
Average Tuition: $50,855
Northwestern University is known for many things: its academic reputation and contributions, its encouragement of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary study, and its progressive support of marginalized and minoritized communities. The Director of Multicultural Affairs says “Our office is proud to lead the way for supporting LGBTQIA undergraduate students. Campus inclusion and community strives to make all of our spaces inclusive and safe.”
Serving the queer, trans, and ally populations of Northwestern, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at Northwestern is a hive of advocacy programming, education, and outreach. They also put on dozens of events each year to give voice to their LGBTQ community, such as Rainbow Week, lavender graduations, Trans Day of Remembrance, and the queer and trans empowerment retreats. Northwestern LGBTQ students also lead a number of intersectional discussion groups such as Latinx (gender open Latino/a group), the QTPOC (queer and trans people of color) group, and StAG (student athlete and Greek alliance), among others.
Based in Evanston, Illinois—a Chicago suburb—Northwestern University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and schools. It is globally and nationally ranked by Forbes, ARWU, Times Higher Education, and U.S. News & World Report.
University of Texas Austin
College Choice Score: 88.8
Average Tuition: $9,806
The Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) at the University of Texas in Austin has been serving its woman identified and LGBTQ students for over a decade. They’ve connected students with internship and job opportunities, helped them understand their healthcare coverage, collated an impressive queer media library, established a mentoring program, and much, much more. Weekly events have entailed queer discussion groups, Feminist Fridays, women of color meet ups and discussion, and a GSC speaker series.
Supplemental to the social life of UT Austin LGBTQ folks, the university demonstrates its commitment to the queer community through its strong institutional support, its campus safety and response measures, and its recruitment and retention efforts. They’ve counseled students on everything from academic scheduling to dealing with the holidays and coming out to families. With multiple feminist, trans, and queer conferences as well as gender and sexuality workshops, days of action, and support groups for everyone on the spectrum, the University of Texas at Austin is undeniably a great place for LGBTQ students to find a home.
The University of Austin at Texas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It’s also one of the larger schools on our ranking with over 50k combined undergraduate and graduate students.
University of Washington
College Choice Score: 88.8
Average Tuition: $10,753
The motto and mission of the University of Washington’s Q Center is to “facilitate and enhance a brave, affirming, liberatory, and celebratory environment for students, faculty, staff, and alumni of all sexual and gender orientations, identities, and expressions.” Washington has proven this broad commitment through equally comprehensive services. Gender neutral bathrooms and housing, easy access to name and gender change (both at the university and in the state), internship opportunities, social clubs, discussion groups, mentoring, even a universal (gender neutral) locker room—LGBTQ students of the University of Washington have many places to turn when they need help, guidance, or just a listening ear.
Undergraduates (as well as grad students and PhD candidates) can earn a full degree in Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington. The queer curriculum is comprised of unique classes such as indigenous feminisms, queer health, gender and sport, and others. Typically, a university that offers such a progressive and intersectional degree can be counted on to take care of their LGBTQ students, and the University of Washington is such a university.
Located in rainy Seattle and accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the University of Washington has been vocal about its commitment to diversity, sustainability, and advocacy.
College Choice Score: 88.4
Average Tuition: $52,430
Tufts University is home to the Queer History Project, an ongoing collaborative research project that reflects on the achievements and challenges of the Tufts queer community. The project is anchored to the idea of connecting past with present, and it has established on the Tufts campus a continuity of diversity.
Tufts has one of the Campus Pride best report grades, earning five out of five stars in its policy inclusion, institutional support, academic life, housing and residence life, campus safety, counseling and health, and its recruitment and retention efforts. Tufts is only slightly docked for its queer social scene, but even that is way above the national standard, as they offer student led groups and discussions for trans and nonbinary students, queer women, queer men, and queer students of color. Tufts also trains its faculty and staff through workshops led by the LGBTQ Center staff and student volunteers. These workshops ensure that campus has a solid grasp on gender identity, queer expression, and pronoun and language fluency.
Accredited by the New England Association of Colleges and Schools, Tufts University is a relatively small, private research school located in Medford, Massachusetts. It is a pretty competitive school (approximately 14 percent of applicants get in) but ranked among the top thirty best in the country by Forbes and U.S. News & World Report.
University of California San Diego
College Choice Score: 87.8
Average Tuition: $14,705
At the University of California San Diego you can attend a queer career fair, a one-day retreat for LGBTQ students called Q Camp, a queer leaders’ summit called Q League, or Out and Proud Week—a seven-day, campus-wide celebration of LGBTQ students, staff, faculty, and their achievements. All events are organized through UCSD’s LGBT Resource Center, which is campus’ hub for reflecting on the diversities of both the university and the larger San Diego community, for engaging across differences, to seek out holistic health, and to connect with other students, staff, faculty, alumni.
Most notable about UCSD’S demonstrable commitment to LGBTQ safety and inclusion is their institutional policy statements and efforts to structurally promote diversity throughout the university. At UCSD there are paid staff whose sole responsibilities are to create and oversee support services for LGBTQ students. Likewise, the school actively seeks to employ a diversity of faculty and staff who will employ intersectional and interdisciplinary perspectives in their curriculums. And for those students who want to explicitly study LGBTQ issues, UCSD offers a Critical Gender Studies major.
UC San Diego is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. Based in the La Jolla neighborhood of greater San Diego, UCSD is a public research institution that offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Case Western Reserve University
College Choice Score: 87.8
Average Tuition: $46,006
The number of queer-led and queer-defined social groups at Case Western Reserve University exemplifies why this campus is a great space for LGBTQ students. Discussion groups cover everything from gender resistance to asexuality, queer and trans people of color experience, individual queer women and queer men experiences, and the intersection of LGBT and Greek life. Other groups include those LGBTQ students in specific fields or disciplines, such as law, medicine, or social justice, who meet up to discuss and connect over the challenges and shared experiences of being queer and/or trans in their field.
Case Western has made sure its trans students have a streamlined experience with name updates, changing email addresses or ID cards, changing gender or names on forms, and choosing relevant housing. CWRU has dozens of gender-neutral bathrooms, at least one in most of its buildings and halls, and health insurance coverage that includes hormone therapy. The university is also happy to put its trans students in touch with groups and organizations outside of CWRU campus, including the TransFamily of Cleveland support group.
Case Western Reserve University, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission is a relatively small university based in Cleveland, Ohio. It is often ranked among the top fifty best universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report for its undergraduate program.
Southern Oregon University
College Choice Score: 87.6
Average Tuition: $8,145
Oregon is the only state that boasts a LGBTQ identified governor, and is generally known for its liberal policies and its protection of queer and other marginalized communities. Southern Oregon University (SOU), mirroring the state’s political ethos, is five-star institution, meaning its Campus Pride report card gives SOU high grades for its policy inclusion, academic life, student life, housing and residence, campus safety training and implementation, and its recruitment and retention of LGBTQ students. Not only does SOU train its faculty and staff on sexual orientation and gender identity issues, they provide ongoing training for hate crime prevention, trans-specific concerns, and LGBTQ-specific career services.
SOU’s Queer Resource Center is comprised of a sizeable queer library, educational resources for allies, LGBTQ alumni networks, as well as a plethora of information concerning LGBTQ groups and organizations, health and counseling support, resources for trans students, and opportunities to connect with peers and staff.
Southern Oregon University is located in Ashland, Oregon, a town known for its love of Shakespeare and its proximity to the mountains. A public liberal arts college, SOU offers many programs but is most known for its natural sciences and environmental science studies. SOU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Schools.
University of Wisconsin–Green Bay
College Choice Score: 87.2
Average Tuition: $7,878
The University of Wisconsin–Green Bay is home to a renowned Women’s and Gender Studies department that crosses cultures, regions, periods, disciplines, and theories in an effort to understand the intersections of gender, seuxality, race, and class. The majors and minors coming out of the WGS department can be supplemented to any other degree program, and, in a way, this department acts as a microcosmic look at the greater university’s care for its LGBTQ populations. That is, LGBTQ students are not seen in categories, but understood to be people with an array of academic ambitions, extra curricular interests, and specific needs.
In addition to the Pride Center, UW Green Bay supports its LGBTQ students through a safe space zone, an ally program, admissions counselors who are trained on LGBTQ-inclusive perspectives, and much more. Health care lacks a little more than some of the other schools on our list (in that it doesn’t provide support groups or coverage of trans-specific services), but it exceeds in its queer and gender friendly housing and residence offerings, its institutional and policy commitment, and its implementation of campus safety.
Originally founded with an environmental sustainability focus, earning the nickname Eco U, the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay now offers a range of degree programs, most which are part of the school’s interdisciplinary cluster programs. UW Green Bay is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of California Santa Barbara
College Choice Score: 87.2
Average Tuition: $14,022
If you’re interested in investigating the LGBTQ experience through a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to queer communities, cultures, histories, literatures, and politics, then University of California Santa Barbara is perfect for you. Offered through the Department of Feminist Studies this nationally recognized minor in LGBTQ Studies will equip you to work in a diverse number of settings, from politics to community advocacy, social work, the arts, or law. Even if you’re not interested in combining the academy with your queer experience, you can still take advantage of the department’s Ethnic and Gender Studies library.
In terms of social life on the UCSB campus, LGBTQ students can expect gender-inclusive housing for those who wish to request accommodations due to gender identity and expression, a Career Services center that is an “Out for Work LGBTQ” certified resource, and organizations for queer and trans students who are also Black, Jewish, Latinx, Pacific Islander, and/or in the STEM field. A top-rated school for both academics and for serving the LGBTQ community, UC Santa Barbara is hard to beat.
A “Public Ivy,” the University of California in Santa Barbara is a top research institution and home to approximately 25k undergraduates. It is lauded by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Times Higher Education, and more, and is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Pennsylvania State University
College Choice Score: 86
Average Tuition: $17,900
With a university the size of Pennsylvania State University, taking care of each student’s need could be an overwhelming task, that is, if strong programming wasn’t in place. And at Penn State, institutional support of its LGBTQ student community is of utmost importance and priority. For starters, the LGBTQA Student Resource Center is the nexus of queer programming, education, information, and advocacy services for Penn State’s LGBTQ students. The resource center is also markedly pro-active, seeking to fully eliminate homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism on campus while also working to stymie racism, classism and ablism, those biases that often work in tandem with LGBTQ injustice.
Penn State also employs a Commission on LBGTQ Equity, which is one of three advisory commissions on campus that reports directly to the president of the university. This commission membership is made up of faculty, staff, administrators, and undergraduate and grad students, all of whom work to improve the LGBTQ climate at Penn State. They monitor, evaluate, and launch new programs and policies, recommend ways to ensure LGBTQ representation campus-wide, and they build partnership and networks among students, faculty, staff, and administration. Because of this Commission—in addition to the huge number of programs, organizations, and policies in place—Penn State is, hands down, one of the best places for LGBTQ students to get their degrees.
With nearly 100k combined undergraduate and grad students, Pennsylvania State University is one of the largest schools on our list. It is a public research university that delivers education at all levels and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
New York University
College Choice Score: 86
Average Tuition: $49,062
New York University is, without a doubt, one of the most renowned institutions in the nation. As a NYU student you not only have access to all the opportunities and resources offered through the university, but you will find yourself in a city known for its LGBTQ history and current advocacy and its ongoing vibrant queer scene. From theatre to film screenings, lectures, gay bars and restaurants, readings, and drag shows, no matter what your interest, you can find a way to get involved and meet other queers.
Back on campus, NYU has cultivated an inclusive and welcoming space for LGBTQ students through the outreach and services provided by the LGBTQ Student Center. While events such as Quench, a lunch-time discussion series that engages LGBTQ issues, ensure queer representation and visibility, groups such as Artivists in Action provides students an opportunity to create art with others, to engage the community, and to stimulate social change. Though NYU still needs to improve their campus safety procedures and policies, they excel in institutional support, meeting student housing requests, providing ample social opportunities, and in their retention efforts.
Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, New York University is a private university and is recognized around the world and nation as being one of the most prominent contributors to research and academic development. Approximately 50k students, evenly split between undergraduates and graduates, attend NYU.
College Choice Score: 85.6
Average Tuition: $48,320
Though currently Lehigh University will refer trans students who seek hormone treatment to a community provider, they have gone to great lengths to ensure their trans community is well taken care of. For example, trans students can seek out counseling or health service practitioners who are trained in trans-inclusive care; they can choose from many different room and housing options, such as single rooms or shared rooms with single bathrooms; and they can easily update their name in the university system. Trans Lehigh students are also encouraged to check in with student affairs’ Pride Center, the school’s nucleus for all things queer.
Other LGBTQ students at Lehigh can expect an equally helpful and resourceful campus experience. They will find that all opportunities other Lehigh students have are open to them as well, including those such as the study abroad programs. Typically, it can be intimidating for queers to travel internationally for a number of known and unknown reasons, but the university has worked hard—through its health services and cultural expectation resources—to ensure its trans and queer students are not deterred from this experience. Other opportunities for the LGBTQ community at Lehigh include social organizations led by queer students, career guidance specifically designed for queers, and the option to major or minor in gender and sexuality studies.
Lehigh University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, it is a private research university with a relatively small undergraduate population of approximately 5,000 students. It is considered a “Hidden Ivy” because of its academic reputation and contributions.
University of Southern California
College Choice Score: 84.8
Average Tuition: $52,217
As a queer identified student the University of Southern California you will have the option to live in an LGBTQ living space or to choose from gender-inclusive housing. Your health insurance is wide-ranging and covers counseling services, hormone replacement, LGBTQ support groups, free and anonymous testing, and trans and queer-trained health staff. You will also have the opportunity to participate in pride graduation ceremonies or LGBTQ admissions fairs. And you can even earn scholarship funding that is specifically allocated to trans and queer students.
Los Angeles is only second to San Francisco for being an LGBTQ mecca on the West Coast. From boasting one of the largest LGBTQ youth centers in the country to countless queer scenes, there are unlimited things to do in LA if you’re queer. However, if you want to stick closer to campus, the University of Southern California (USC) will do right by you as well. With an exhaustive policy inclusion that promotes an institutional-wide support of LGBTQ persons, perspectives, and representation, USC is a fantastic place for LGBTQ students to earn a degree.
Home to more than a few well-regarded queer theorists and academics, the University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It is well ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and Times Higher Education, among others.
University of Oregon
College Choice Score: 84.6
Average Tuition: $10,762
Of the many ways the University of Oregon (UO) has sought to educate its community on LGBTQ experience and give voice to the underrepresented, its unique program called the Bridges Panels was designed to facilitate dialogue and understanding about the lived experiences of LGBTQ individuals. These panels bring LGBTQ stories to the wider community, allowing for questions and discussion on live issues facing the queer community, including transphobia, heterosexism, homophobia, gender bias, prejudice, and injustice. This is just one facet of support for LGBTQ students at UO.
Scholarships to fund LGBTQ students, an allies and out list, a queer ally coalition, transition support, and a bunch of student organizations reinforce the support of queer lives on campus. Additionally, and a little less commonly, students can join Theta Pi Sigma, a Greek community that seeks to foster positive leadership, change, philanthropy, and growth in the trans and queer UO populations.
Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and University, the University of Oregon is based in Willamette Valley’s Eugene. They are known for their research-focused curriculum and for offering over 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in an array of disciplines.
University of Connecticut
College Choice Score: 84.4
Average Tuition: $14,066
The University of Connecticut (UConn) celebrates National Coming Out Day and Trans Day of Remembrance each year, while also annually hosting the True Colors Conference, the largest LGBTQ Youth conference in the country. Lavender graduation and award ceremonies, mentorship programs, an “Out to Lunch” lecture series, and even a weekly film series all contribute to UConn’s consistent status as being one of the most inclusive and welcoming campuses in the nation for LGBTQ students.
Furthermore, UConn’s support of their trans and queer community is evidenced by a vibrant social life coming out of the Rainbow Center as well as its campus safety and health care sectors. Regarding the latter two, UConn receives near perfect marks for making sure its campus safety staff is trained on issues of hate crime, bias incidents, sexual orientation, gender expression and identity, and LGBTQ sexual violence and partner violence. UConn’s health center is also highly trained in issues of trans and queer care, specifically providing hormone treatment, LGBTQ counseling and support groups, and free testing.
UConn is based in Storrs, Connecticut and it is a mid-sized, land-grant, public, research institution. The University of Connecticut is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Southern Illinois University
College Choice Score: 84.2
Average Tuition: $11,008
Do you find yourself living in the Midwest and needing to keep your college experience local or regional? Southern Illinois University (SIU), specifically its Edwardsville campus, is a great option for you. They consistently rank as one of the best schools in the nation for LGBTQ students. There are many reasons why this is so, but perhaps the biggest demonstration of SIU’s commitment to its queer and trans students is that the institutional support these students (as well as LGBTQ staff, faculty, and administrators) receive at SIU is exhaustive, progressive, and all-inclusive. This is seen explicitly in the school’s non-discrimination statement (which protects sexual orientation and gender identity and expression) and in the programs and services available in the Student Multicultural Resource Center.
Part of the larger Multicultural Resource Center, SIU’s LGBTQ Resource Center helps students with name changes, community networking, education and outreach, and by connecting them with local and regional resources that fall outside campus bounds. LGBTQ students are also encouraged to participate in the Queer Mentors Program, making this school intentionally relational as well as institutionally supportive.
Southern Illinois University has multiple campuses, though the main campus is located in Carbondale, Illinois. It is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Northern Kentucky University
College Choice Score: 83.4
Average Tuition: $9,384
At the heart of Northern Kentucky University’s (NKU) inclusion efforts are the LGBTQ Student Ambassadors, those who work closely with both students and administration to ensure the university’s policies, procedures, and programming serve its queer and trans students by extending protections. Similarly integral to NKU’s LGBTQ efforts is the annual celebration of LGBTQ History Month. Each October, NKU plans an extensive, four-week program comprised of lectures, parties, awareness events, symposiums, and summits. From queer yoga to intersex awareness day, October on NKU campus is loud and proud.
Outside of these events, Northern Kentucky ranks as one of the best schools for LGBTQ students because of its active student life (that is, the many queer and trans clubs and organizations available to students), its progressive campus safety policies and procedures, its inclusive and exhaustive healthcare system, its support groups (such as the one for LGBTQ students struggling with depression and/or anxiety), and—most importantly—its LGBTQ policy statements and institutional commitments.
Located in downtown Highland Heights—just a few miles from Cincinnati, Ohio—NKU is a mid-sized liberal arts school and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
College Choice Score: 83.2
Average Tuition: $50,639
Through the work and vision of Department of Multicultural Life at Macalester College, the school has cemented itself as one of the most welcoming campuses in the nation. New faculty and staff undergo training on both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression issues. Likewise, residence staff and campus security staff are fully trained to deal with LGBTQ hate crimes and incidents. Admissions and career counselors, health care providers, and support counselors are all trained on trans and queer inclusivity issues as well, making Macalester College a robustly experienced and knowledgeable campus.
LGBTQ Macalester students have the opportunity to get involved in many leadership and development opportunities. For example, they can become part of the Emerging Scholars program, which was designed to bring opportunities to historically under-represented students, and which provides internships, fellowships, and scholarships. Students can also participate in the Alumni & Students of Color program, the Queer Professionals Network, Feminists in Action, the Trans Identity Collective, and much more.
Macalester is a private, liberal arts school based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is considered one of the best liberal arts schools by U.S. News & World Report, often ranked among the top twenty-five in the country. It’s also one of the smallest schools on our list with approximately 2,000 undergraduate students, and it is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
College Choice Score: 82.8
Average Tuition: $14,372
Offering an LGBTQ minor that can paired with most majors as well as a Queer Studies Research group, Rutgers University is a great place for LGBTQ people to study and earn their degrees. Courses cover everything from the politics of sexuality to feminist history, art and women, race and gender in film, LGBT history, and marriage and family. Many students who complete one of Rutgers’ interdisciplinary programs, such as these in queer and gender studies, go on to be accepted to renowned graduate programs and find fulfilling work in a range of fields and disciplines.
Outside of academia, campus life at Rutgers is extremely welcoming and easily one of the best universities in the country for LGBTQ students. In fact, it receives perfect grades in institutional commitment, academic life, student social life, housing and residence options, campus safety, counseling and health, and in its recruitment and retention efforts. These high marks, its affordable price tag, and its early average income for graduates (around 52k annually) makes Rutgers a strong return on investment.
Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Rutgers is the largest university in New Jersey with its nearly 70k combined undergraduate and graduate students. It is also ranked well on national and global levels, receiving accolades specifically for its English, history, math, women’s history, and African American history departments.
San Diego State University
College Choice Score: 82.6
Average Tuition: $7,084
As an out and proud LGBTQ student at San Diego State University you can expect a whole variety of opportunities for engagement, connection, and advancement. For example, you can join a LGBTQ fraternity or sorority. But if Greek life isn’t for you, there’s also regular queer and trans social events and activities. Also, you can study queer experience formally or you can join an informal discussion group, such as Trans Talk. LGBTQ movie night, LGBTQ living spaces, and LGBTQ scholarships are all available to you as well.
The Pride Center at San Diego State University is host to many of these programs, resources, and services. They also connect students with local and regional community resources that are based in the city, such as the Transgender Center of San Diego, PFlag, and the Lambda Archives, a center that works to collect, preserve, and teach LGBTQ history. Students also go to the Pride Center for career services, academic advising, healthcare assistance, and counseling. For these reasons, and because San Diego State’s institutional protections and promises fully cover sexual orientation and gender expression, SDSU is among the best schools in the nation for LGBTQ students.
A sizeable research university, San Diego State is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It is not only recognized for its academic contributions but it is among the top ten schools in the country for its ethnic and racial diversity.
University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
College Choice Score: 82
Average Tuition: $13,790
Though many of these best colleges and schools for LGBTQ students are allocated to the West and East Coasts, not all are, such as the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities. (The UM Morris campus also deserves a shout out for being a very welcoming and inclusive campus; see below). Though UM Twin Cities doesn’t match some of the other schools’ retention efforts or campus safety procedures, they excel in healthcare provision, diverse housing options, academic inclusion of queer and trans perspectives, and in their institutional support of LGBTQ students, staff, faculty, and administration.
UM Twin Cities’ demonstrates its inclusive and progressive understanding of LGBTQ through the name of its designated resource center alone: The Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life, which is part of the Office for Equity and Diversity. It is here that many students have gotten involved in the LGBTQ alumni network, the mentorship program, and the international student group. The Center also offers awards, scholarships, and endowments for students who need financial assistance, and they schedule a bunch of LGBTQ specific events each year.
The University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. It is the flagship institution in the greater University of Minnesota System, and it enrolls approximately 50k students, about half of whom are undergraduates.
Bridgewater State University
College Choice Score: 81.2
Average Tuition: $9,610
Bridgewater State University makes the College Choice list of top fifty best schools for LGBTQ students for many reasons. Foremost, its strengths lay in structural, institutional commitments to non-discrimination and the promotion of visibility. This is seen in Bridgewater’s policy statement as well as in their housing provisions, exhaustive counseling and health plans, and their high retention rates. Bridgewater’s GLBTA Pride Center works closely with administration to monitor, evaluate, and implement these policies and programs.
Additionally, as a Bridgewater LGBTQ student you will have access to scholarships, study abroad opportunities, queer graduations, LGBTQ specific admissions fairs, and a university-wide curriculum that includes queer and trans voices. Though Bridgewater could seek to provide more LGBTQ-inclusive training to their faculty and staff, they’ve taken care of their queer and trans students in a number of other ways. Trans students specifically should feel good about applying to Bridgewater, as healthcare covers counseling and hormone therapy and the school provides an accessible, simple process for students to change their name and gender identity on university records and documents.
A liberal arts college with nearly 10k undergraduate students, Bridgewater State University (located in Massachusetts’ city of the same name) is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
University of Massachusetts–Amherst
College Choice Score: 81.2
Average Tuition: $13,790
The Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst gives its students as many opportunities for involvement it can. Each year they send students to the Queer & Trans People of Color Conference; host several celebrations in conjunction with national remembrance, such as the International Women’s Day celebration; they screen movies together and provide rapid HIV and STI testing; they even publish their own newsletter, Queer-e. Workshops, trainings, community outreach, the Stonewall Center at UMass Amherst serves its queer and trans students every day in innumerable ways.
UMass Amherst is also a solid campus for LGBTQ students because of its ally organizations, its queer studies options, and its highly trained faculty and staff. Indeed, all new faculty members are trained on the nuances of sexual orientation and gender expression. Career services, admissions, counseling, health, and campus safety are other departments you can expect Amherst staff to be fully trained on LGBTQ inclusive policy, a big reason why they make our ranking.
UMass Amherst is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. It offers over 100 undergraduate programs to its 22k students, making it the largest public university in New England. UMass Amherst receives many accolades, for its academics, its inclusivity, and even for its location: Amherst is rated among the top ten college towns by U.S. News & World Report.
Indiana University Bloomington
College Choice Score: 80.8
Average Tuition: $10,388
QNews will keep you apprised of events at the campus, local, and national level. The LGBTQ+ Library will equip you with books, videos, CDs, and zines written by and for the queer and trans community. A dozen student-led organizations and discussion groups will give you a place to build relationships with other LGBTQ identified folks. And the GLBT Alumni Association will provide you with a scholarship or funding assistance, if you qualify. Clearly, the University of Indiana–Bloomington cares for its queer and trans community in several ways, easily making its way onto our ranking for top colleges and universities for LGBTQ students.
The LGBTQ+ Culture Center at IU Bloomington hires both LGBTQ students as well as fully trained staff who are responsible for providing LGBTQ support across departments. Thus, IU Bloomington has in place a balance of services and resources: safe spaces and safe zones, a LGBTQ alumni group, queer studies programs, gender studies programs, LGBTQ fraternities and sororities, safe housing for all gender expressions, and a campus safety department that is committed to preventing LGBTQ related crimes and incidents.
Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Indiana University is a public research university of nearly 50k undergraduate and grad students. It is ranked among the top 100 universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Times Higher Education, and more.
University of Iowa
College Choice Score: 80
Average Tuition: $8,325
Iowa City is a centralized destination for queers coming from all over the plain states and the Midwest. The city offers art, diversity, and inclusion. Located in the heart of the city, the University of Iowa reflects this attitude through its non-discrimination policy, its extensive programming (academic, social, and health), and its recruitment and retention efforts.
Here’s the not great news for trans students: currently, the University of Iowa does not offer a LGBTQ living space or queer-specified floor, nor does it offer roommate matching or gender-inclusive housing. However, here’s the much better news: the counseling and health care staff at UI is trans-inclusive trained. And UI provides health coverage that includes hormone replacement therapy and trans-specific counseling services. Likewise, admission counselors, career counselors, academic advisor, campus safety officers, and all new faculty and staff members on trained on LGBTQ sensitive issues.
Based in Iowa City, the University of Iowa is known for being a leader in many ways and disciplines, such as its medical school and its writing workshop. The University of Iowa is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
College Choice Score: 79.4
Average Tuition: $52,002
Like many of the other small, liberal arts colleges on our ranking, Oberlin College is nationally recognized for its left-leaning ethos and its devotion to providing a dynamic, interdisciplinary education to its students. Through the Multicultural Resource Center Oberlin protects its students from all kinds of external discrimination. For example, it is currently putting new policies in place to protect its undocumented students. The Center, with its amalgamation of identities it serves (queer, Latinx, indigenous, immigrant, trans, students of color) demonstrates the intersections of struggle, injustice, and resistance through its many series, initiatives, and conferences.
Each year Oberlin hosts Queerfest, a multi-part celebration of its LGBTQ students and the broader queer and trans communities outside of campus grounds. A drag ball, panel discussions, time of personal sharing, queer crafting, and workshops comprise the Queerfest, and bring together all kinds of students, LGBTQ and ally alike. For those who are looking for a smaller school experience and can afford the higher price tag, Oberlin is a great option.
Oberlin College, accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, is a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio and has a reputation for its political activism, especially its LGBT advocacy. The Advocate also includes Oberlin in its ranking of friendliest campuses for LGBT students.
Stony Brook University
College Choice Score: 78.4
Average Tuition: $9,026
A member of the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals organization, Stony Brook University strives to educate the greater community about gender and sexual expression by raising awareness and hosting diverse and plentiful events, celebrations, and activities. These are often student-led, meaning LGBTQ Stony Brook students have the opportunity to develop leadership and networking skills while receiving their education.
Stony Brook excels in its LGBTQ provisions and inclusions in manifold other ways as well. They have a comprehensive non-discrimination policy, a bunch of LGBTQ and ally groups, thorough training procedures (for staff, faculty, and administration), and a top-notch campus safety team that works hard to prevent discrimination and to ensure that if any hate crimes or bias incidents do occur, they are properly and exhaustively handled. Stony Brook queer and trans students can also expect plenty of options, from housing and residence to social life, health care, and academic.
Stony Brook University (based in Stony Brook, NY) is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is a mid-sized university with huge research activity. It is a sea and space-grant university lauded by Forbes, ARWU, and U.S. News & World Report.
University of Central Florida
College Choice Score: 77.8
Average Tuition: $6,368
The mission of the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) LGBTQ task force if four-pronged: to foster greater opportunities for LGBTQ students to succeed at UCF and beyond, to create programs and experiences that educate the UCF community on queer and trans issues, to organize conversation around LGBTQ history and culture, and to make a space where further resources can be added to the programs in the future. Most of these efforts to promote and protect LGBTQ voices come from the Pride Commons, UCF’s safe space for queer and trans students.
UCF also encourages students to get involved in an Alliance Mentoring Program, which pairs LGBTQ staff and faculty members with LGBTQ students. This has proven to be an important part of the student’s campus experience, as they are guided through the academic as well as personal transitions that occur during college. Other LGBTQ specific programming includes Pride Chats, a speaker’s series, and trans visibility week, among others.
The University of Central Florida (UCF) is a huge, public research institution based in Orlando and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. There are over a dozen satellite campuses and an online distance learning platform that make up UCF.
University of Colorado–Boulder
College Choice Score: 77.4
Average Tuition: $11,531
Boulder is a super friendly city for LGBTQ folks (not to mention the outdoor adventurers) and the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus is equally celebrative of and welcoming to LGBTQ students. From a queer and trans game night (Gayme Night) to the TRANSforming Gender Conference, the Gender and Sexuality Center serves those who find themselves anywhere along the gender and sexual orientation spectrum through educational and cultural outreach, advocacy, and information referral and dissemination.
UC Boulder’s other areas of strength in LGBTQ inclusion encompass health plans, flexible housing, a campus safety team that participates in ongoing training for hate crime prevention, scholarship and funding assistance, LGBTQ counseling and support groups, and thorough trans care. Concerning the latter, trans students are given an accessible and simple process for name and/or gender change on their university records, and health care coverage includes hormone replacement and staff (both health and counseling) who are specially trained on trans-inclusivity.
UC Boulder is the flagship institution at the University of Colorado Boulder. It is known for its academic standing and for graduating a number of Nobel laureates, MacArthur Fellows, astronauts, and more. UC Boulder is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
University of Maine
College Choice Score: 77.2
Average Tuition: $7,480
The Rainbow Resource Center at the University of Maine is multifunctional. While they prepare queer, trans and ally students to live responsibly in a global, intersectional world they also strive to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues throughout campus and into the greater community, through education and advocacy. Students drop into the Rainbow Resource Center for counseling help, to connect with other students, to make name or gender changes on university documents, to get assistance with housing, and much, much more.
The University of Maine’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Department also plays a substantive role in providing educational, cultural, and social opportunities on campus. They host a feminist film series, bring in a number of queer and gender scholars, and they offer a major and minor in gender and sexuality. One of the most affordable schools on our list (for Maine residents), the University of Maine in Orono is a solid school to consider.
The University of Maine is located in beautiful Orono and is the flagship school in the greater University of Maine System. With an emphasis on sustainability and the arts, the university has a reputation for its intentional curriculums. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools of Colleges.
Kansas State University
College Choice Score: 76.4
Average Tuition: $9,350
Another safe haven among the plains, and an affordable one to boot, Kansas State University (KSU) is definitely one of the best schools in the nation for LGBTQ students. Their non-discrimination statement includes both sexual orientation and gender identity. Faculty, staff, and administrators are all trained on inclusivity, specifically on queer and trans inclusivity. And, the university hosts many events that celebrate their LGBTQ students and remember the history of the queer and trans national community, such as the Lavender graduation, the LGBT and Allies Progressive Dinner, and World AIDS Day remembrance.
KSU has many strengths when it comes to protecting and advancing their LGBTQ student community, but they excel in their campus safety model and in their counseling and health provision. Regarding the former, KSU’s security and safety team, while implementing crime prevention measures, has a procedure in place for reporting LGBTQ related bias incidents and hate crimes when and if they occur. They also dialogue with students and student organizations to better those procedures. The health system at KSU is equally responsive, sensitive, and dialogical. From support groups to a trans-comprehensive health care plan, the holistic health of LGBTQ students is a top priority at KSU.
Kansas State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. It is located in Manhattan, Kansas and enrolls nearly 25k undergraduate and graduate students. It is known, mostly, for its long history of agriculture research and learning initiatives, though there are, of course, over sixty areas of study in addition.
University of Houston
College Choice Score: 76.2
Average Tuition: $10,710
Through a five-pillar program, the University of Houston’s LGBT Resource Center seeks to foster healthy, proud, and academically successful LGBTQ students. Those pillars—peer mentoring, speakers bureau, the brown bag social lunch, Cougar ally training, and the educational student program—equally promote equity, leadership development, and visibility. And students who seek help through the Center will find a community of support and validation while connecting with others through one of the many clubs and organizations. Queer and Ally sororities, STEM majors who are also LGBTQ, and a Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Squad (SAGA), there’s a place for everyone on the spectrum at the University of Houston.
The University of Houston is, undeniably, one of the best schools in the nation for trans students. Their resources go above and beyond many other colleges and universities. For example, the university has a Voice Evaluation and Intervention clinic where trans students can work on voice feminization or masculinization. Students can join athletic and recreation programs under their gender identity (as opposed to their assigned gender). There’s gender inclusive housing. And the health care at Houston includes health counseling, hormone replacement, and even sexual reassignment assistance. For all these reasons, the University of Houston is an affordable and inclusive option for LGBTQ students.
A state school known for its research contributions and its strong rankings acquired from U.S. News & World Report, the University of Houston is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Washington State University
College Choice Score: 76.2
Average Tuition: $11,041
Campus Pride gives Washington State University all As on its LGBTQ report card. Policy inclusion, institutional commitment, student life, housing and residence life, campus safety, and recruitment and retention efforts—perfect scores for each. In fact, Washington State would be at the very top of our ranking if we didn’t include external factors (such as formal ranking and early career salaries), because they do it all: LGBTQ scholarships, housing, sororities and fraternities, safe spaces, advisory committees, health coverage, alumni groups, study programs, career services, and more.
The Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center (GIESORC) at Washington State University oversees much of this programming and policy that is developed and implemented across campus. They also host student forums, mentoring opportunities, support groups, and ally training. If the Pacific Northwest suits you, then you should consider earning your degree at Washington State University, as you’ll be introduced to a number of leadership, development, and social experiences to pair with your academic career.
Washington State University—a research institution based in Pullman, Washington—is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. It is ranked among the top 150 best universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
University of Minnesota–Morris
College Choice Score: 76
Average Tuition: 12,846
The University of Minnesota at Morris’ (UMM) commitment to LGBTQ inclusion is driven by its students and anchored in community building. For example, the Queer Issues Committee brings together students, faculty, and staff on a regular basis to talk about to reinforce and improve UMM campus life for LGBTQ people. Through the Safe Zone Program, events and speaker series, and through its work on systemic issues (such as housing and crime reporting), the Queer Issues Committee shows dedication to improving institutional support and the overall college experience for queer and trans students.
In addition, a bunch of other programs are in place to encourage LGBTQ students to seek out opportunities and succeed academically as well as socially. Scholarships and funding assistance, admissions and career services, and comprehensive health care to promote holistic health are just some of the ways UMM cares for its LGBTQ students.
Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the University of Minnesota in Morris is one of the smallest schools on our list with under 2,000 undergraduates. It is a public liberal arts college with approximately thirty-five areas of study.
University of Arizona
College Choice Score: 75
Average Tuition: $10,872
LGBTQ students at the University of Arizona can report any acts of bias or prejudice immediately and can expect swift and strict action, as the university recognizes that bias incidents which occur within the community impact how one learns, lives, works, and socializes on campus. The school also requires ongoing training for hate crime prevention, and they connect frequently with LGBTQ students and student organizations to determine how to better campus policies and procedures on LGBTQ issues.
In conjunction with the campus safety measures in place, the University of Arizona supports its queer and trans students through regular support groups. There are groups specifically for queer and trans students of color, those with gender identities outside of the traditional binary system, and for those who identify on the asexual and/or aromantic spectrum. The university provides innumerable other opportunities for LGBTQ students to connect with one another, access health care assistance, develop leadership qualities, and generally thrive while earning their degrees.
The University of Arizona is based in Tucson and accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and School. It’s a large school known for its athletics, its medical schools and hospitals, and its academic standing and rankings.
College Choice Score: 74.8
Average Tuition: $51,790
There are hardly many other states better than Massachusetts to be out and proud. Williams College is located in Williamstown, MA, and though it concludes our ranking of the friendliest and most inclusive colleges and universities for LGBTQ students, it is still a great option for several reasons. Foremost, the LGBTQ experience is woven into all aspects of the Williams community, from athletics and academics to social clubs, the arts, and more. Students can formally study sexuality and gender or participate in an informal meetup or discussion group. They can drop into the Davis Center, a space designated for LGBTQ students and allies to find help with whatever area of college life they need, be it career advising or counseling. It’s also a great place for students to meet one another and build relationships with the Davis staff.
Williams is a small school of approximately 2,000 undergraduates, but it serves its LGBTQ students with the resources, programming, and advocacy of a larger university. They provide strong institutional support, a vibrant social life among its queer and trans students, and a campus safety and security team that has committed to making Williams a safe and welcoming space for its LGBTQ community.
Ranked first by U.S. News & World Report for best liberal arts colleges in the nation, Williams College is a highly selective and renowned university. Through their three-tiered academic divisions—humanities, sciences, and social sciences—Williams’ offers over thirty areas of study. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.