Top 25 Best Vaccine-Optional Colleges in the US | 2022 Rankings

This COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the education landscape. From distance learning to virtual graduations, everything has changed. After over a year of social distancing, many colleges are reopening their campuses to students. But it begs the question: do they require their students to be vaccinated?

We’ve gathered the top 25 colleges that are allowing their students to choose whether or not they wish to get the vaccine. Whether it’s for health or personal reasons, these vaccine-optional colleges are giving their student body the power of choice.

Note: The schools on this list are vaccine-optional as of August 24th, 2021 and may change their requirements in the future. 

Here are the best vaccine-optional colleges in America.

Top 25 Best Vaccine-Optional Colleges

A public undergraduate school, the United States Naval Academy’s motto, in Latin, is “Ex Scientia Tridens”, or “From Knowledge, Seapower.” It was established in 1845 and saw disruption and riots during the Civil War that almost caused the government to move the school. Today, just over 4,500 students attend.
Location Annapolis, MD
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 4,538
The University of North at Chapel Hill goes by several different names including UNC, Chapel Hill, and Carolina. It’s a public research university and the flagship of the school system. Enrolling students in 1795, it’s one of the oldest public schools in the country. UNC became coeducational in 1877 and began admitting African-American graduate students in 1951.
Location Chapel Hill, NC
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 29,877
"Scientiæ Cedit Mare," or “the sea yields to knowledge,” is the motto of the United States Coast Guard Academy. It was founded in 1876 and is the smallest of the five academies for service in the United States. The most popular major is political science and government, but business management, civil engineering, and oceanography are also top choices.
Location New Haven, CT
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,069
With around 400 students, Soka University of America is an extremely small school. It has an acceptance rate of about 40%. A fairly new school (founded in 2001), the private university focuses on pacifism, human rights, and the creative coexistence of nature and humanity. It was founded by the founder of the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist movement, Daisaku Ikeda.
Location Aliso Viejo, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 419
Hillsdale’s motto is “Virtus Tentamine Gaudet” or “Strength Rejoices in the Challenge.” The school has a 96% first year retention rate and a 9 to 1 student to faculty ratio. All students who attend are required to take courses on the “Great Books,” the United States Constitution, and science courses. 88% of students will graduate within 6 years.
Location Hillsdale, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,526
The United States Military Academy is also known as West Point or the Academy. Only 12% of applicants will receive acceptance letters, but 83.4% of these students will go on to attend. Their motto is Duty • Honor • Country. The entire site of the school is a national landmark and includes historic sites, a museum, and more.
Location West Point, NY
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 4,457
Davidson College was founded in 1837 and already started trying to reduce the cost of college for students by the 1850’s. Today, the school meets the financial needs of students through grants, student employment, and more, and doesn’t require their students to take out loans. 18% of applicants are accepted. Davidson has a 95% first year retention rate.
Location Davidson, NC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,837
The United States Air Force Academy has over 4,000 students attending. The school has an 11% acceptance rate and is extremely competitive as nominations are divided among Congressional districts. Their motto is “Integrity First, Service before self, Excellence in all we do.” Their mascot is, appropriately, the Falcon.
Location USAFA, CO
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 4,304
A very large school, the University of Florida has over 52,000 students, with about 35,400 undergraduates and 17,000 graduates. Part of the Southeastern Conference, they offer a wide variety of sports from football to gymnastics and have over 500 athletes. The team members are known as the Gators and wear orange and blue uniforms.
Location Gainesville, FL
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 52,407
Also referred to as Georgia Tech, this public research university was founded in 1885 as part of the Reconstruction plans post Civil War. At first, it only offered degrees in Mechanical Engineering. In 1901, it would also offer Chemical, Civil, and Electrical engineering. Today, the top two majors are Computer and Information Sciences and Mechanical Engineering.
Location Atlanta, GA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 36,302
Also known as UT Austin, UT, or Texas, the University of Texas at Austin was founded in 1883, but the first mention of it can be traced back to 1827. Famous alumni include Wes Anderson, James Baker, Matthew McConaughey, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. The two most popular majors at UT are Biological Sciences and Economics.
Location Austin, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 51,090
The University of Georgia has an acceptance rate of just over 45% and many students will go on to major in Finance, Psychology, and Biology. It’s one of the oldest public schools in the United States (founded in 1785). This Public Ivy university has quite a few famous alumni graduates including state governors, football players, scientists, Pulitzer Prize winners, and more.
Location Athens, GA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 38,920
The University of Wisconsin - Madison was the first public university in the state as it was founded when Wisconsin received statehood in 1848. Their motto is “Numen Lumen” or “Divine Light.” It’s also the largest employer in the state as it has over 21,600 faculty and staff. There are 136 undergraduate majors with Economics, Computer and Information Sciences, and Biology being the most popular.
Location Madison, WI
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 44,257
The United States Merchant Marine Academy’s motto is Acta Non Verba in Latin, or “Deeds not Words” in English. The Academy accepts just under 25% of applicants and the only available majors to students are Marine Science/Merchant Marine Officer, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, and Systems Engineering.
Location Kings Point, NY
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,025
A land-grant research university, Ohio State is known as a Public Ivy. Getting its start in 1870, it was originally known as the Ohio Agriculture and Mechanical College. The Buckeyes take part in the Big Ten Conference and are well known for their football program. With over 1,000 athletes, other popular sports at the school include track, baseball, ice hockey, and fencing.
Location Columbus, OH
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 61,391
The North Carolina State University at Raleigh is part of the largest university system in the Carolinas. It’s part of the Research Triangle with Duke University and University of North Carolina. Also known as NC State, the school has a 14 to 1 student to faculty ratio and 94% first year retention rate. A whopping 87% of the incoming class calls North Carolina home.
Location Raleigh, NC
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 36,304
Florida State University was founded in 1851 and today, is well known for their sports programs. Athletes are known as the Florida State Seminoles. The team has won 20 national athletic championships and the athletes have won 78 individual NCAA national championships. Florida State has a 93% first year retention rate and a majority of first-time students come from its home state.
Location Tallahassee, FL
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 42,450
Clemson University boasts a large campus, spanning 1,400 acres at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains alongside Lake Hartwell, making for a stunning sight. The school also has the Clemson Experimental Forest which can be used for recreation as well as education and research. Clemson’s most popular major is Business.
Location Clemson, SC
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 25,822
Oberlin College is the oldest coeducational liberal arts college in the country. The Oberlin Conservatory of Music is also the oldest operating conservatory within the United States. They accept only 35% of students. 77% will graduate within 4 years (86% within 6). Oberlin College’s motto is “Learning and Labor.”
Location Oberlin, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,863
Often abbreviated to RISD, this school was founded to expand access to design education to women. Nowadays, 68% of the undergraduate class consist of female students. The campus is located on the Providence River. Systems Science and Theory is the most popular major, followed by Illustration and Graphic Design.
Location Providence, RI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,501
Willie the Wolverine is Grove City College’s mascot. Speech Communication, Biology, Mechanical Engineering, Business, and Accounting are the top five most popular majors. Grove City College has an impressive 90% first-year retention rate and a 4-year graduation rate of 80%. Believe it or not, only 53% of the incoming students are from Pennsylvania.
Location Grove City, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,272
Also known as SMU, the Southern Methodist University receives over 14,000 applications per year, and accepts about 53% of them. Believe it or not, only 36% of first-year students come from Texas, many also come from Florida, Illinois, and California. Additionally, 91% of those first-years continue their education at SMU.
Location Dallas, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 11,824
Purdue University is a public land-grant research university. Alumni include Neil Armstrong, Orville Redenbacher, and Drew Brees. The university accepts about 67% of students. The most popular major is Computer Science, followed by Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.
Location West Lafayette, IN
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 45,500
Thomas Aquinas College is an extremely small liberal arts college in California. The only major the school offers is Liberal Arts and Sciences. The college has a 94% first year retention rate, 80% four year graduation rate, and an 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio. Thomas Aquinas College’s motto is “Fides Quaerens Intellectum” or “Faith Seeking Understanding.”
Location Santa Paula, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 439
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology focuses on math, science, and engineering. It was originally founded as the Terre Haute School of Industrial Science in 1874 in an effort to teach technical training to assist with railroad construction. It would get its current name in 1971 after financial support from the Hulman family. The top major is Mechanical Engineering.
Location Terre Haute, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,038

Interested in any of these schools? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see if they’re a good fit for you!


Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.

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