Top 25 Best Large Colleges: 2018 Rankings

These colleges are large and in charge. Definitions of “large” colleges might change depending on who you ask, but for the purposes of this list we’re considering any school that has 10,000 or more students.

Check out College Raptor’s list for the Top 25 Best Large Colleges of 2018!

Top 25 Large Sschools 2018 College Rankings

25.University of Southern California

Flickr user Ting Chen

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 43,401
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Well known for their business and film schools, USC has a slew of successful and famous alumni: astronaut Neil Armstrong, actor/director Clint Eastwood, architect Frank Gehry, comedian Will Ferrell, and legendary filmmakers Robert Zemeckis, Bryan Singer, and George Lucas. The mighty USC Trojans sport the colors cardinal and gold.

24. New York University

Flickr user jpellgen

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Student Enrollment: 50,027
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

This international university has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai as well as centers in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Sydney, and Washington D.C. NYU also has an impressive list of notable alumni that includes heads of state, royalty, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, Olympic medalists and astronauts.

23. Boston College

  • Location: Chestnut Hill, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 14,354
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

This Jesuit Catholic research university receives more than 29,000 applications per year. Of these applications, only 8,400 students are admitted on average. Accepted students score an average of 1,300–1,470 on the SAT and 29–33 on the ACT. The official Boston College colors are maroon and gold, and its mascot is Baldwin the Eagle.

22. Emory University

Flickr user Georgia Popplewell

  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Student Enrollment: 13,788
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Emory is one of oldest private colleges in the country and was established in 1836. The university, which receives approximately 20,500 applications per year, is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The school’s top three majors are Business Administration and Management, Biology, and Economics.

21. Tufts University

Flickr user Steve McFarland

  • Location: Medford, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 11,137
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Of the 19,000 plus applications that get sent into Tufts every year, only about 3,000 are accepted—giving this school a 16.1% acceptance rate. There is a 9:1 student to faculty ratio at this university giving it a close-knit feel. Their mascot, Jumbo the Elephant, has quite a unique history and sports the school colors of blue and brown.

20. Johns Hopkins University

Flickr user Let Ideas Compete

  • Location: Baltimore, MD
  • Student Enrollment: 22,686
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

This founding member of the American Association of Universities was established in 1876 and named after the entrepreneur, philanthropist, and abolitionist Johns Hopkins. The fame Hopkins has garnered for its medical school is reflected in its three most popular undergraduate majors: Nursing, Public Health, and Biomedical Engineering.

19. Georgetown University

Flickr user Josh

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Student Enrollment: 18,459
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

This historic university is comprised of nine undergraduate and graduate schools. It offers over 48 college majors, the most popular of which are: International Relations and Affairs, Political Science, Finance, Economics, and Psychology. Their school’s motto—Ultraque Unum—means Both into One.

18. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

Flickr user Ken Lund

  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI
  • Student Enrollment: 43,651
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above

Originally founded in Detroit in 1817, the public university has expanded over the years to a combined area of over 34 million square feet, which includes its central campus in Ann Arbor, regional campuses in Flint and Dearborn, and an extension center in its original home. Its most popular majors are Business, Economics, Psychology, and Computer and Information Sciences.

17. University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill

Flickr user Rhonda

  • Location: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Student Enrollment: 29,084
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above

UNC Chapel Hill shares the title of oldest public university in the United States with two other schools, since it began enrolling students in 1795. North Carolina competes athletically as the Tar Heels, and the popular school colors are Carolina blue and white. Students can also participate in over 550 officially recognized student organizations.

16. University of California–Los Angeles

Flickr user Andy Dietler

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 41,908
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above

Political Science is the most popular major at this powerhouse school, followed by Psychology, Economics, and Sociology. Their freshman retention rate is an impressive 96%. UCLA’s alumni have gone on to win numerable awards including: 105 Academy awards, 278 Emmy awards, 3 Pulitzers, and 3 Grammy awards.

15. Cornell University

Flickr user J. Maughn

  • Location: Ithaca, NY
  • Student Enrollment: 21,904
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Cornell University, founded in 1865, is unique among its Ivy League counterparts in that it is a land grant institution. With programs spread across New York City, and even in Qatar, this research university is consistently ranked among the top in the world. Research is a central element to the University and it spent $671 million in 2009 on science and engineering research and development.

14. Vanderbilt University

Flickr user Tom Hart

  • Location: Nashville, TN
  • Student Enrollment: 12,567
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit

Named in honor of rail and shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, the academically rigorous school accepts students with average ACT scores between 32–36 and average SAT scores between 1,430–1,580. Although the university is in the middle of urban Nashville, the campus is a designated national arboretum and has over 300 species of plants.

13. University of California–Berkeley

Flickr user K. Oliver

  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 38,189
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above

Berkeley, the result of an 1868 merger of the private College of California and the public Agricultural, Mining and Mechanical Arts college, is the oldest research university in the UC system. The school’s faculty, alumni and researchers make up an impressive group which includes Nobel laureates, Academy Award winners and Olympic gold medalists.

12. Washington University in St. Louis

Flickr user grabadonut

  • Location: St. Louis, MO
  • Student Enrollment: 14,688
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Of the nearly 15,000 students on campus, the ratio between graduates and undergraduates is relatively even. Top majors at the institution include Psychology, Biology, Finance and Mechanical Engineering. The private research university has also been affiliated with 25 Nobel laureates, nine of which completed the majority of their research at Wash U.

11. Duke University

Flickr user Chris Lawrence.

  • Location: Durham, NC
  • Student Enrollment: 15,984
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Of Duke’s nearly 16,000 students, the majority of them are in the graduate school. Well over 31,000 applications are sent to this university every year, though only about 11% or so are accepted. Duke has a 7:1 student to faculty ratio, and a 97% first-year retention rate. Lacrosse, football, and soccer are popular sports on campus.

10. Northwestern University

Flickr user jojolae.

  • Location: Evanston, IL
  • Student Enrollment: 21,655
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Although NU is based in Evanston along the shores of Lake Michigan, the school has two other campuses in Chicago and Doha, Qatar as well as additional facilities in Washington D.C. and San Francisco. The Northwestern Wildcats also compete in 19 varsity sports at the NCAA Division I level as part of the Big Ten Conference.

9. University of Notre Dame

Flickr user Dan Dzurisin.

  • Location: Notre Dame, IN
  • Student Enrollment: 12,292
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Founded in 1842 by a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the University of Notre Dame is a widely recognized Catholic research university.  The most popular majors on campus are finance, accounting, and marketing.  With 80% of their students living on campus, most students flock to the athletic stadiums to cheer on their Fighting Irish sporting the famous gold and dark blue uniforms.  

8. University of Virginia–Main Campus

Flickr user marc_buehler.

  • Location: Charlottesville, VA
  • Student Enrollment: 23,883
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above

Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and James Madison (among others), helped select the city of Charlottesville to be home to the university. Here you’ll find liberal arts studies and business to be the most popular majors. Notable UVA alumni are Olympians, astronauts, and US leaders, including former president Woodrow Wilson.

7. Columbia University in the City of New York

Flickr user Andreas Komodromos.

  • Location: New York City, NY
  • Student Enrollment: 28,086
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

There are a host of famous and influential alumni that have graduated from this university, including: 3 U.S. Presidents, 9 Supreme Court Justices, and 123 Pulitzer Prize winners. Incoming freshmen score an average of 31–35 on the ACT and 1,380–1,570 on the SAT. Nearly 37,000 applications are sent to this school annually.

6. University of Pennsylvania

Flickr user Rob Pettengill.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Student Enrollment: 24,876
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

UPenn’s coat of arms was specifically designed to mirror Benjamin Franklin’s. It features a dolphin and two books. The motto “Leges sine moribus vanae” means “Laws without morals are useless.” Located in the City of Brotherly Love, this university receives well over 37,000 applications each year, nd accepts about 3,800 of them.

5. University of Chicago

Flickr user Don Burkett.

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Student Enrollment: 15,391
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

UChicago has graduated quite a number of recognizable names, including: Roger Ebert, Carl Sagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Indiana Jones (albeit fictionally). Their maroon coat of arms features a phoenix rising towards the words “Crescat Scientia; vita excolatur”—Let knowledge grow from more and more; and so be human life enriched.

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Flickr user Stacey Kizer.

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 11,311
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

This institute was technically founded in 1861, but did not open to students until 1865 due to the start of the Civil War. Nowadays, however, MIT is a worldwide leader in physical sciences, engineering, economics, biology, and much more. They have cardinal red and silver grey as their official school colors.

3. Stanford University

Flickr user Michael Estigoy.

  • Location: Stanford, CA
  • Student Enrollment: 16,980
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Stanford’s german motto — Die Luft der Freiheit weht — stands for “The wind of freedom blows.” For this prestigious school, the average ACT score is between 31 and a perfect 36, for the SAT between 1,390 and 1,580. Given its proximity to Silicon Valley, it comes as no surprise that the most popular major on campus is Computer Science.

2. Yale University

Flickr user Francisco Anzola.

  • Location: New Haven, CT
  • Student Enrollment: 12,385
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Yale University receives over 30,000 each year, and is well-known for being highly selective. In 1861, Yale awarded the country’s first ever Ph.D. Students sport the unique color “Yale Blue” at Bulldogs games. Among its notable alumni are 5 U.S. Presidents, 19 Supreme Court Justices, 20 living billionaires, and 57 Nobel laureates.

1. Harvard University

Flickr user Paul Geffen.

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Student Enrollment: 29,652
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Easily one of the most recognizable universities, Harvard is actually the oldest institute of higher learning in the country. It’s latin motto of “Veritas” means truth—a fitting motto for a university well-known for its law, political science, and social science programs. Harvard also boasts an impressive graduation rate, at 87% for four years, and 97% for six.

About our methodology

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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