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The Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges rates America’s top 150 universities and the top 50 liberal arts schools (as listed by US News and World Reports) according to the degree of viewpoint diversity you can expect to find on campus. Is it a place where you are likely to encounter a variety of views on politically controversial topics? Or is it an environment where students who do not hold the dominant political viewpoint are afraid to speak up?

Our Guide to Colleges helps you evaluate schools by integrating these four sources of information:

  1. Endorsed Chicago: Whether the university has endorsed the Chicago Principles on free expression
  2. FIRE Rating: Whether the school’s speech codes foster or infringe upon free speech. As rated by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
  3. ISI Rating: Is the school a reasonably welcoming place for conservative and libertarian students? Obtained from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) guide to Choosing the Right College. (We presume that open-minded progressive students would prefer not to attend a school at which students who are not on the left feel unwelcome, and are less likely to speak up.)
  4. Relevant Events Since 2014: Events on campus that indicate a commitment by faculty, administration, and/or students to protect or restrict free inquiry and viewpoint diversity, as broken out by where the event originates; i.e. is it a policy from the administration or an event disruption by students? We ignore events that involve just a few individuals or professors and focus on those indicating broader sentiment, norms, or policy.

We are currently including the percentages of foreign students as these populations contribute to a climate of intellectual diversity on campus. Presently, however, the percentages do not factor into our overall Heterodoxy score. In our upcoming revision, we will weigh this information.

Methodology: Our methodology integrates and weights these predictors. There is at present no good survey data on campus climate; we simply try to gather all of the imperfect indicators we can find, to help high school students and their families make an educated guess about the intellectual climate on 200 college campuses. Please bear in mind that each university is a complex environment with many subgroups and sometimes many distinct schools within it. Problems related to political orthodoxy and free expression may be very different depending on whether you major in the humanities versus enrolling in the engineering school or business school.

The first edition of the guide was released in October 2016. The second edition was released in June 2017.