Pillars of Academia: The colleges that produce the most altruistic students, by state

Pillrs aims to empower socially minded people to make a huge impact, right from their couch. So naturally, one day after a few too many hours of bug fixing and development, someone asked an interesting question:

Which college create the most altruistic students?

Having no idea – most of us went to colleges that are “the best in the world (as long as you don’t count anyone better)” – we turned to the Washington Monthly university rankings, which ranks schools on: social mobility, research, and service. It was there that we found the answer.

So without ado, here’s the map of the top school in each state for altruistic / community service minded students.

Pillrs of Academia map:

Pillars of academia map - the top universities in each state that produce the most altruistic students

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Most Socially Minded Schools, Tabulated Data

Here’s the full rankings. Order lists the school’s ranking on our list of the top school for each state, accounting only for top schools.

Also listed is the Rank Among all Universities Considered, which accounts for every university on Washington Monthly’s data. For example, two Schools in California are ranked above Tulane University (Order #4, Rank #5) – we only list the top school for the state, UC Riverside in this example, bumping Tulane’s Rank down one and mismatching its order.

Order School State Rank among all

Universities considered

1 Texas A&M University–College Station TX 1
2 American University DC 2
3 University of California–Riverside CA 3
4 Tulane University of Louisiana LA 5
5 SUNY Coll. of Envir. Science & Forestry NY 6
6 VA Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ. VA 7
7 Indiana State University IN 8
8 Washington University in St Louis MO 11
9 Case Western Reserve University OH 14
10 University of the Cumberlands KY 15
11 Marquette University WI 17
12 Vanderbilt University TN 18
13 Colorado State Univ.–Fort Collins CO 20
14 Auburn University AL 22
15 Loyola University–Chicago IL 23
16 Widener University–Main PA 24
17 University of Nevada–Las Vegas NV 26
18 University of NC–Chapel Hill NC 27
19 University of Idaho ID 29
20 Clark University MA 32
21 University of Connecticut CT 40
22 University of Michigan–Ann Arbor MI 41
23 University of Washington–Seattle WA 42
24 Drew University NJ 43
25 Florida International University FL 45
26 University of Minnesota–Twin Cities MN 46
27 University of Nebraska–Lincoln NE 48
28 Univ. of South Carolina–Columbia SC 51
29 University of MD–College Park MD 53
30 Emory University GA 55
31 University of Kansas KS 56
32 Mississippi State University MS 57
33 Arizona State University AZ 68
34 University of Delaware DE 75
35 University of Vermont VT 79
36 Dartmouth College NH 86
37 University of Montana MT 91
38 Portland State University OR 94
39 West Virginia University WV 112
40 University of South Dakota SD 127
41 Utah State University UT 128
42 University of Rhode Island RI 146
43 University of Arkansas at Little Rock AR 154
44 University of Tulsa OK 156
45 University of Wyoming WY 203
46 University of New Mexico–Main NM 214
47 University of Hawaii–Manoa HI 225
48 University of North Dakota ND 235
49 Iowa State University IA 236
50 University of Maine ME 254


About the rankings

All of our data was gathered from the Washington Monthly college rankings. Their full selection criteria is published here.

For simplicity, we’ve included the relevant information about their community service score, which was used to generate this graph (emphasis added and styled for readability):

We determined the community service score by measuring each college’s performance in four equally weighted measures.

  1. We judged military service by collecting data on the size of each college’s Air Force, Army, and Navy ROTC programs and dividing by the number of students.
  2. We similarly measured national service by dividing the number of alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps by total enrollment.
  3. The final two measures are based on data reported to the Corporation for National and Community Service by colleges and universities in their applications for the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. One measure is the percentage of federal work-study grant money spent on community service projects.
  4. The second measure is more complicated and includes the percent of students doing community service, the number of hours of community service per student, whether any staff were employed in community service, if any service courses were offered, or if the institution provides scholarships for community service.

Colleges that did not submit applications in a given year had no data and were given zeros on these measures.


Leave a comment


  • Sharon says:

    It looks like you did not look at any community colleges. Nearly half of the college students in the country attend community college. My guess is that cc students rank high on the percentage doing community service and the percentage of either active military or veterans. Most of the schools on the list are R1s, it does not look like compreshensives were included either, or is it the Peace corp metric that keeps them off of the list?

    • Hi Sharon, you are correct that this data didn’t include community colleges. Unfortunately, we were constrained by the data that Washington Monthly reported and this is just national universities.

  • […] the most altruistic student body in each state and bestowed upon their schools the designation of Pillars of Academia. Drew is the Pillar for New Jersey, joining the likes of Loyola University for Illinois, Vanderbilt […]

  • Joe says:

    The headline is misleading, as you cannot infer that these colleges is what produces the altriuistic nature of the students. It may be just that more people that go to these schools are already more altruistic. Your phrasing at the end is much more representative of what the chart is “top school in each state for altruistic / community service minded students”. But I know that doesn’t make for a catchy headline.

    • It’s a fair point Joe – we can’t really infer that it’s the school that produces altruistic students VS attracting them. Anecdotally, however, we’ve seen many alums posting on facebook things like “it’s in our culture”, “No surprise, that’s who we are”, and the like.

      Whether it’s the school’s focus on community service that attracts community service orientated people or if the community service focus shifts mindsets towards community service is hard to determine. The truth is that it’s probably a virtuous cycle of both, that the focus shifts some mindsets, making the school more attractive to community service minded individuals, causing more non-service minded people to shift due to an abundance of examples of others doing good, etc. etc.

      Either way, we felt these schools deserve credit for putting real effort into attracting and cultivating quality humans.

  • Kelly says:

    Thanks for the shout out for UA Little Rock. FYI Arkansas is abbreviated AR!

  • Valerie says:

    Proud to see my alma mater on here, but were there no colleges in Alaska that qualified?

  • Aaron C Wade says:

    The data didn’t include any of the universities in Alaska?

  • Carrie says:

    I would say there is no way to measure this as people who do community service for completely altruist reasons are not turning in proof of their hours to college programs.

  • […] * Pillars of Academia: The colleges that produce the most altruistic students, by state. […]

  • […] Pillrs.com, a Silicon Valley-based organization dedicated to affecting personal and social change, compiled the results based on social mobility, research, and service. It also ranked all the colleges on the map, listing Widener University 16th overall. […]

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