Why Are College Professors So Liberal? What We Know

Why Are College Professors So Liberal

It’s no longer news that academics are more liberal. But the question is: why are college professors so liberal? Many sociologists are puzzled by this development. 

Not all college professors are liberal anyway. But data from the General Social Survey from 1996 to 2008 show that most professors in the United States are liberal. 

The study shows that 43% of college professors in the country identify as liberals. The percentage of college professors identifying as liberal is more than any other career. Why is this so? Keep reading as we explain the reason behind this. 

 Why Are College Professors So Liberal?

Studies have been conducted on this subject, and the reasons why most of our professors are liberal are thought-provoking.

There’s a strong link between intelligence and liberalism, such that liberal views expressed by individuals with higher degrees show the great academic potential of liberals. 

Another reason the majority of professors are liberal is because it allows them to differentiate themselves from business elites and the middle class. They don’t want to be classed as either. 

On average, college professors are less religious than other Americans, which corresponds to their being liberals. These are what Neil Gross’ believe is the reason professors are so liberal. But they do not hold up to scrutiny. 

Why Are Professors Allowed To Spread Liberalism? 

Understanding the definition of liberalism will help us answer this question. So, first, what’s liberalism? It refers to a moral and political philosophy based on an individual’s right, liberty, political equity, consent of the governed, equality before the law and right to private property.   

Considering this definition and looking at classical liberalism in the 18th century, you’ll understand how much influence it had on our Constitution. Our founding fathers were liberals because the circumstances called for it. 

They were fully committed to liberalism at some point in the history of the United States of America. They lived when freedom of the press, assembly, and religion was nonexistent. 

The reason people believe professors spread liberalism in our colleges is because they teach several subjects that people who are against liberalism resist. A good example is critical thinking. The professor cannot force a student to accept their political ideology. People are free to choose whatever political affiliations they want to belong to. 

Most people are against teaching liberal ideas such as the science of climate change, the idea of truth in journalism, and the theory of evolution. But the question is, what made these teachings threaten liberal ideas? Is climate change not a visible problem in the world today? 

The university only admits adults who can think and make decisions for themselves. Thus, even if our university professors are trying to spread their liberal ideas in classes, it’s left for students to accept or reject them. 

What Percentage Of Professors Are Liberal?

Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) surveyed full-time faculty at American 4-year universities, including colleges, every three years. The institute has gathered massive information regarding faculty experience, including field, position, personal opinion, institutional details, and views. 

The institute also asked participants to state their political orientation, either liberal “far left” or conservative “far right.” 

The survey results gathered between 1989 and 1998 showed a tangible change in the number of professors that identified themselves as liberal. Only 45% of the participants identified as liberal. 

Fast forward to 2014, the institute surveyed around 16,112 professors and found something shocking. They discovered that the number of professors who identified as liberal has increased to 60%.

This shows that many professors are liberals, but the sample size is too small to conclude. Another thing we need to look at is that several factors influence the shift in political orientation. 

What Percentage of Harvard Professors Are Liberal?

Over 80% of Harvard faculty respondents identified themselves as liberal. Some even identified themselves as “very liberal,” according to an annual survey conducted by Crimson’s in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  

The researchers report that only 1% of respondents claimed to be conservative. The researchers ensured over 1,100 surveys were distributed to members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, non-tenure track faculty, tenure-track faculty and others. 

The questions were 111 and recorded 476 responses. In total, 333 questions were complete, while 143 weren’t. 

Why Are Most College Students Liberals?

A report shows that 50% of college students are liberal, 26% are conservative, and 23% are moderate. How factual is this? 

A YouGov poll revealed someone remarkable about these claims, but the results varied. The poll involved 22,000 Americans as participants, and their opinion was based on how college education affects an individual’s political ideology. 

In the study, around half of Americans (47%) and (57%) of college graduates claim that college makes people more liberal. Only 6% stood their ground and claimed college makes individuals more conservative. In the same study, 22% claimed college doesn’t affect one’s political ideology. 

However, conservative people are likely to say going to college can make an individual more liberal than those who identify as liberal. The ones who claim ‘moderate” are more likely to say that college cannot change an individual’s ideology. 

The researchers also considered the subject people studied in colleges and linked them to their opinions on the subject matter. In the results, half of the individuals in all subject areas claim that college can make an individual more liberal. 

Here are the findings: People that studied law (63%), math (63%), social sciences (61%), and liberal arts/humanities (61%) were most likely to claim that college can make a person more liberal. 

Those who studied other causes had contrary views. For instance, those who studied engineering (9%) and accounting (9%) were likely to state that college makes individuals more conservative.  


Why are college professors so liberal? There’s a link between intelligence and being a liberal or liberalism. It is such that liberal views expressed by individuals who possess higher degrees show the great academic potential of liberals. 

Another reason why most professors are liberal is this. It offers them a unique opportunity to differentiate themselves from business elites and the middle class. 

On average, college professors are less religious than other Americans, which corresponds to their being liberals. These are what Neil Gross’ tried to explain in his study. The reason why professors are liberal is due to their personal beliefs.

However, not all professors are liberal. Some are conservative, and some aren’t affiliated with any political ideology. Some professors don’t even vote. That’s the irony of the whole thing.  

Linda Foster

Linda Foster is a news blogger with an insatiable appetite for current events. She is constantly digging for the latest scoop, and her readers can always rely on her to get the story first. Linda has a sharp eye for detail, and she isn't afraid to ask the tough questions. When she's not blogging, Linda enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

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