For people who grow up with pets, bidding farewell to those furry friends can sometimes be one of the hardest aspects about leaving for college. Whether it’s for a 4-month semester or an entire calendar year, saying goodbye to your loved ones can take on a different significance for animal lovers. There aren’t too many pet-friendly colleges in the United States, but there some that will accept pets.
Because Best Value Schools cares about every kind of student, we’ve compiled our research to rank the 15 small colleges across the nation for animal lovers. That way students can enjoy their college experience with their pet.
Here are the best pet-friendly colleges for animal lovers:
1. Eckerd College – Saint Petersburg, FL
Long believed to be the most pet-friendly campus in America, Eckerd College has allowed pets on its school since 1973. Eckerd lives by the philosophy that students should be able to bring a part of home with them. From a pet commencement ceremony to a newly-opened dog park, pets are a huge part of college life. Eckerd allows an extensive list of animals in the dorms, ranging from cats and dogs to different pet animals such as rabbits and ducks. Along with their pet-friendly living environment, Eckerd boasts a student-run Pet Council and also offers a pre-veterinary medicine degree.
2. Lees-McRae College – Banner Elk, NC
Since its initiation in 2011, Lees-McRae’s pet-friendly policy is quickly catching the national public eye. As featured in PEOPLE magazine, this college doesn’t just allow pets; it encourages both students and teachers to bring them to class. At some point during their time at Lees-McRae College, all students can bring one pet to live with them. The Western North Carolina college allows the following types of pets in residence halls across campus: dogs, cats, and fish. The college also has a Pet Council consisting of various students, faculty and staff members. To top it off, Lees-McRae College also features “animal-centric” programs such as Wildlife Rehabilitation (concentration), Wildlife Biology (major) and Pre-Veterinary Medicine (major).
3. Delaware Valley University – Doylestown, PA
Located thirty minutes north of Philadelphia, DelVal’s high rank on this list is primarily due to its many animal-based academic studies as well as an impressive list of animal-friendly clubs with 15 total. At Delaware Valley, students can pursue a degree in animal science, biology, conservation and wildlife management, equine management, equine science, small animal science, and zoo science.
In addition to animal-based academia, DVU began piloting pet-friendly policies into the school a couple of years ago, which allows students to have small pets in secure housing on campus. In the coming years, DVU hopes to solidify these policies and make pet areas more significant and more widely accepted.
4. Becker College – Worcester and Leicester, Mass.
Home of the 17th annual Pet Rock Festival, Becker College is a constant participant in animal welfare events and works hard to promote animal-loving and kindness. Students looking for an animal-based education have a long list of options at Becker: equine management, equine studies, animal care, laboratory animal management, pre-veterinary studies, biology, veterinary science/clinical medicine, laboratory animal management, and veterinary technology. This broad variety of classes makes Becker one of the best places to find a staff dedicated to the study of animals. BC’s School of Animal Studies’ routinely ranks among the top four-year private schools in the nation to award undergraduate animal studies degrees.
5. Stephens College – Columbia, Mo.
For more than ten years, Stephens College has allowed cats, dogs, birds and a variety of other animals on campus, and is one of the most pet-friendly colleges in the country today. The school even has a doggy daycare, so owners can feel good about bringing their pets to live with them in Stephens’ pet-centered campus dorm. According to the college’s website, they “treat pets like royalty.”
The college participates in some excellent pet-friendly activities and encourages animal safety by offering scholarship opportunities to those who want to become foster parents to sheltered animals. Not convinced? They have a pet costume parade every year during Halloween.
6. Centenary College – Hackettstown, N.J.
Centenary is one of the most well-known equestrian colleges in the country. Within their equine studies program, they offer Bachelor of Science degrees with an emphasis in riding instruction and training, as well as equally impressive programs in equine business management, equine science, and communication in the equine industry.
As if their equestrian prestige wasn’t enough, Centenary goes to great lengths to help students feel relaxed and comfortable at school by bringing puppies to greet them on campus toward the end of the school year.
7. Alfred University – Alfred, N.Y.
Like Centenary, Alfred University ranks highly due to an exceptional equestrian program. With Daggett Equestrian Center just a few minutes away from campus, professors teach several equine theory classes such as English and Western riding, draft, horse driving, and equine science and course design. Besides the equestrian program, Alfred also has a unique pre-veterinary program and student organization.
8. Stetson University – DeLand, Fla.
For students who have a non-traditional pet, Stetson University may be the best college out there. On the long list of acceptable campus, pets are fish, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, guinea pigs, mice, and even rats. Along with great animal-friendly housing options, several enclosed park areas on campus allow students to unleash their animals to run free and play. On top of that, students can join the Providing Animals With Service (PAWS) student organization, which is a group that provides a social service around campus and dedicates itself to helping animals.
9. SUNY College of Technology at Canton – Canton, N.Y.
Over the last decade, SUNY Canton has become increasingly well-known for providing its students the opportunity to bring their pets to live with them in the Pet Wing housing option. Though the college doesn’t permit dogs, birds, and snakes from the housing, students can bring most other kinds of small, caged pets from home as long as they are approved. Canton’s SUNY campus also offers three majors for those interested in veterinary work: veterinary service administration, veterinary science technology, and veterinary technology.
10. California Institute of Technology – Pasadena, Calif.
If you like cats, Caltech is the place to be. Students can choose from any of seven different residence halls to house their cat since each apartment is allowed up to two cats in each unit. There are other pets allowed on campus as well; most students have fish, but no dogs or birds. But really, this place is all about the cats. If being allowed to have two cats isn’t enough, students can join the Caltech Animal Team (CAT). This club dedicates itself to finding and taking care of homeless and abandoned animals, specifically cats. The CAT team works to manage the cat populations around campus and the nearby community, keeping the animals safe and healthy until CAT can find a new home for the animals through foster animal care or adoption.
11. Sweet Briar College – Sweet Briar, Virg.
With an atmosphere like Caltech, this school is a place for animal-lovers. Sweet Briar College loves horses and has an elite riding program. Besides their top-notch riding instruction, the women’s class also participates in hunting, jumping, and equitation riding competitions. Upon arriving at Sweet Briar, students have the option to bring and board their horse at the SBC stables. If interested in horses, this school is as good as they come.
12. Ohio Wesleyan University – Delaware, Ohio
Ohio Wesleyan University’s spot on this list is due in large part to their dedicated philanthropy toward pet safety in recent years. Since 2014, OWU’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity has run an annual “Dog Days” program, an event that helps all kinds of pets by getting local animal shelters to come to campus and ask for donations. Animal adoption applications are also available at Dog Days, and generous contributions have helped make it a very successful event.
In addition to their charitable efforts, Ohio Wesleyan shows its support for animals by letting students own a wide variety of pets, from cats and dogs to rodents like gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, and mice.
13. Principia College – Elsah, Ill.
Principia College is great for students who just can’t bear the thought of leaving their pet at home. They allow a wide variety of acceptable pets to live within their housing facilities, including dogs, cats, rabbits, caged animals and aquatic pets. The campus also permits the owners to let their animals accompany them leash-less. Of course, with such a policy, Principia requires that students supervise their pets and keep them under control. To assure safety and enforce policies, the college maintains an Animal Relations Committee and by the school’s faculty members.
14. Andrews University – Berrien Springs, Mich.
Andrews University is a pet-loving school with impressive academics within the realm of animal life. No matter what kind of animal students want to study, they’ve got countless options ranging from a pre-veterinary management degree in their Animal Science Program to graduating in livestock, a four-year degree in the Department of Agriculture.
With such animal-focused academia, it is disappointing that students are not permitted to bring pets to campus. Nonetheless, the school’s excellent undergraduate degree programs are enough to outweigh this for many. A degree takes four years, but if students can stand leaving their pet at home for that long, they will have gained an invaluable education at Andrews.
15. Olivet Nazarene University – Bourbonnais, Ill.
Olivet Nazarene University is one of only a few Christian schools that offers a zoology degree. They help their students get out of their textbooks and study animal life in a hands-on environment. Like Andrews, however, Olivet doesn’t particularly encourage pets to live on-campus, in fact only fish are allowed. However, students are welcome to join the biophilic and equestrian clubs. Overall, ONU is still a good option for those looking for an excellent animal education at a Christian school.
The list draws from the best pet-friendly colleges for animal lovers and students. The combination of job placement, faculty experience, the success of graduates in their fields, number of online programs, graduation rate, options for financial aid and overall quality of application based on student feedback determines each school’s evaluation and rank.
We invite schools featured on our list or not highlighted to reach out for possible inclusion in an updated version of our best pet-friendly colleges for animal lovers and students. We’re continually looking to recognize top-tier institutions.