Top 25 Best Large Colleges | 2019 Rankings

Top 25 Best Large CollegesThese colleges are the definition of large and in charge. Big schools have lots of students and lots of opportunities. Some of the very best large colleges in the US are household names!

What makes a college “large” might depend on who you ask, but for the purposes of this list we’re considering any school that has 10,000 or more total students.

Check out College Raptor’s list for the top 25 best large colleges of 2019!

25. University of Maryland – College Park

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - University of Maryland College Park

    Flicker user Bgervais

    Location: College Park, MD

  • Student Enrollment: 39,083
  • College Type: Public

“Fatti maschii, parole femine” is the motto of UM College Park, translating to mean “Strong deeds, gentle words.” On average, incoming freshman score between 28 and 33 on the ACT, and between 1310 and 1490 for the SAT. Not only is the University of Maryland a flagship school, it’s also a land grant, space grant, and sea grant university.

24. University of Southern California

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - University of Southern California

    Flickr user Ting Chen

    Location: Los Angeles, CA

  • Student Enrollment: 43,871
  • College Type: Private

USC is a highly selective school with a 16%. USC boasts a 96% retention rate with their students. The school mascot is a Trojan and their colors are crimson and gold. USC is renowned for their film program, and has a number of influential alumni, including: Clint Eastwood, George Lucas, John Carpenter, and Shonda Rhimes, among many others.

23. Emory University

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Emory University

    Flickr user Georgia Popplewell

    Location: Atlanta, GA

  • Student Enrollment: 14,067
  • College Type: Private

Incoming Emory freshmen score an average between 30–33 on the ACT and 1380–1510 on the SAT. This university has a 22% acceptance rate, and had nearly 24,000 applications sent in last year. “Cor prudentis possidebit scientiam” is the school motto, and translates to mean “The wise heart seeks knowledge.”

22. Boston College

Boston College’s Greek school motto of “Αἰέν ἀριστεύειν” translates to mean “Ever to excel,” a fitting phrase for this historic college. Baldwin the Eagle is BC’s mascot, and students wear maroon and gold to cheer on the athletic teams. Boston College has an impressive 95% first year retention rate.

21. Tufts University

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Tufts University

    Flickr user Steve McFarland

    Location: Medford, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 11,489
  • College Type: Private

Over 20,000 applications are sent into Tufts every year, and with a 15% acceptance rate, only about 3,000 get accepted. There is a nearly even split between graduate and undergraduate students on campus, 52% and 48% respectively. Their mascot is Jumbo the Elephant, and their school colors are Tufts Blue and brown.

20. Georgetown University

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Georgetown University

    Flickr user NCinDC

    Location: Washington, DC

  • Student Enrollment: 18,525
  • College Type: Private

Georgetown counts presidents, kings, Supreme Court Justices, and diplomats among their alumni. It is located right next to the historic Potomac River. The university has a 90% 4 year graduation rate, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1. 60% of the students at Georgetown are at the graduate level.

19. Johns Hopkins University

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Johns Hopkins University

    Flickr user Let Ideas Compete

    Location: Baltimore, MD

  • Student Enrollment: 23,917
  • College Type: Private

Considered the first research university in the United States, Johns Hopkins has more graduate students (75% of total enrolled students) than undergrads. Incoming freshmen have impressive test scores, on average 32–35 or 1480–1570 on the ACT or SAT respectively. Their school colors are Hopkins blue, white, and black, and their athletic teams are known as the Blue Jays.

18. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - University of Michigan Ann Arbor

    Flickr user Ken Lund

    Location: Ann Arbor, MI

  • Student Enrollment: 44,718
  • College Type: Public

In addition to being Michigan’s oldest institute of higher learning, the state’s flagship school, UM is also a space and sea grant college. The University of Michigan was originally located in Detroit, but moved to Ann Arbor in 1837. Almost 60,000 applications are sent in each year, and with an acceptance rate of 27%, over 16,000 are accepted.

17. Cornell University

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Cornell University

    Flickr user J. Maughn

    Location: Ithaca, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 22,319
  • College Type: Private

A member of the famed Ivy League, many Cornell alumni have gone on to achieve fame of their own. Some notable names include Bill Nye, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, E.B. White, Christopher Reeve, and Toni Morrison. Of the total students enrolled, 65% of them are at the undergraduate level.

16. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

    Flickr user Zach Mullen

    Location: Chapel Hill, NC

  • Student Enrollment: 29,468
  • College Type: Public

Regarded as a “Public Ivy,” UNC Chapel Hill receives nearly 40,000 applications a year. With an acceptance rate of 24%, around 9,500 students are admitted annually. There’s a total of 890 athletes on campus, with basketball, soccer, and field hockey being some of the most popular sports.

15. Vanderbilt University

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Vanderbilt University

    Flickr user Tom Hart

    Location: Nashville, TN

  • Student Enrollment: 12,587
  • College Type: Private

Though it has a respected reputation for music programs (especially given its location of Nashville), the most popular majors on campus is Economics. Black and gold are the school colors, and the mascot is named Mr. Commodore. Vanderbilt, affectionately called Vandy, has a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1.

14. University of California – Los Angeles

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - University of California Los Angeles

    Flickr user Andy Dietler

    Location: Los Angeles, CA

  • Student Enrollment: 43,548
  • College Type: Public

Second oldest of the University of California system, UCLA received a whopping 102,225 applications last year. However, with an acceptance rate of 16%, only 16,356 were accepted. The 4 year graduation rate is 74% but jumps up to 91% at 6 years. 74.96% of UCLA students come from California.

13. Washington University in St Louis

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Washington University in St Louis

    Flickr user grabadonut

    Location: St. Louis, MO

  • Student Enrollment: 15,047
  • College Type: Private

Named after the legendary George Washington, this university has educated a number of other famous names, including: actor Harold Ramis, Greenpeace CEO Phil Radford, and even writer Tennessee Williams (though he dropped out). Washington University is known for its geographical diversity, with many students coming from New York, Illinois, and California.

12. University of California – Berkeley

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - University of California Berkeley

    Flickr user K. Oliver.

    Location: Berkeley, CA

  • Student Enrollment: 40,154
  • College Type: Public

UC Berkeley sports two unique colors: Berkeley Blue and California Gold. Students and mascot Oski cheer on the Golden Bears during athletic events. Economics, Computer Science, Cell / Molecular Biology, Electrical Engineering, and Business Administration are the five most popular majors on campus.

11. Duke University

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Duke University

    Flickr user Chris Lawrence

    Location: Durham, NC

  • Student Enrollment: 15,735
  • College Type: Private

Given the university’s Methodists affiliation and motto of “Eruditio et Religio” (Knowledge and Faith) it’s a little ironic that their sporting teams are known as the Blue Devils. Duke has a 7 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio and an excellent 97% freshman retention rate. Their acceptance rate is 10%

10. Northwestern University

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Northwestern University

    Flickr user jojolae

    Location: Evanston, IL

  • Student Enrollment: 21,823
  • College Type: Private

A founder of the Big Ten conference, Northwestern is the only private college in the group. Mascot Willie cheers on the Wildcats at sporting events. The university has more graduate students than undergraduate, with a 60 / 40 split. Economics, Communication, and Journalism are the most populated majors on campus.

9. University of Virginia – Main Campus

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - University of Virginia Main Campus

    Flickr user Rex Hammock

    Location: Charlottesville, VA

  • Student Enrollment: 23,898
  • College Type: Public

Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, this flagship university has been the university of impressive alumni, including 8 NASA astronauts / launch directors, 8 Pulitzer Prize winners, and widely recognizable names like Edgar Allen Poe, Georgia O’Keefe, Robert and Ted Kennedy, and Tina Fey, among others.

8. University of Notre Dame

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - University of Notre Dame

    Flickr user Dan Dzurisin

    Location: Notre Dame, IN

  • Student Enrollment: 12,393
  • College Type: Private

This university is known around the world, helped by the fact it has study and research centers in London, Beijing, Dublin, Jerusalem, and Rome. Notre Dame celebrates its Irish routes with a leprechaun mascot and their teams’ nickname: the Fighting Irish. 91% of students graduate within the traditional four years.

7. Columbia University in the City of New York

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Columbia University in the City of New York

    Flickr user Andreas Komodromos

    Location: New York, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 29,372
  • College Type: Private

Founded before the creation of the Declaration of Independence, Columbia is full of history—including awarding the very first M.D. degree in the US. Columbia also awards the coveted Pulitzer Prize every year. It is located in Harlem, right on the Hudson River. They have a 6 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio.

6. University of Pennsylvania

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - University of Pennsylvania

    Flickr user Rob Pettengill

    Location: Philadelphia, PA

  • Student Enrollment: 24,960
  • College Type: Private

Founded by the great Benjamin Franklin, UPenn was one of nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The top five most popular majors on campus are Finance, Registered Nursing, Political Science and Government, Economics, and Biology. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the school colors are a patriotic red and blue.

5. University of Chicago

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - University of Chicago

    Flickr user Don Burkett

    Location: Chicago, IL

  • Student Enrollment: 15,775
  • College Type: Private

The official UChicago motto is “Crescat Scientia; vita excolatur”—Let knowledge grow from more and more; and so be human life enriched. Each year, approximately 28,000 applications are sent in, though the acceptance rate is only 9%. Many UChicago students are from Illinois, but many others come in from California and New York as well.

4. Stanford University

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Stanford University

    Flickr user Michael Estigoy

    Location: Stanford, CA

  • Student Enrollment: 17,184
  • College Type: Private

Given its proximity to Silicon Valley, it comes as no surprise that the most popular major on Stanford’s campus is Computer Science, followed by Human Biology and Engineering. During its foundation, Stanford was actually modeled off of Cornell and Harvard among other influential universities. Cardinal and white are the official school colors.

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Flickr user Andrew Hitchcock

    Location: Cambridge, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 11,376
  • College Type: Private

“Mens et Manus” is the Latin motto of this impressive school, translating to “Mind and Hand.” MIT is practically synonymous with academic excellence, and incoming freshmen score an average of 1500–1570 on the SAT, an average between 33 and 35 on the ACT. MIT is both a Land Grant and a Space Grant school.

2. Yale University

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Yale University

    Flickr user Francisco Anzola

    Location: New Haven, CT

  • Student Enrollment: 12,458
  • College Type: Private

The first PhD ever awarded in the US came from Yale University. Economics, Political Science, and History are the most popular majors on campus. Students can enjoy one-on-one interactions with their professors, as the student-to-faculty ratio is 6:1. Yale also boasts an impressive 99% first year retention rate.

1. Harvard University

  • Top 25 Best Large Colleges - Harvard University

    Flickr user Paul Geffen

    Location: Cambridge, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 29,908
  • College Type: Private

Harvard is among the oldest universities in the US, founded back in 1636. It’s latin motto of “Veritas” means truth—a fitting motto for a school known for its law, political science, and social science programs. Students need impressive academics at Harvard, since the average ACT score is between 32–36, and SAT scores are between 1470 and 1590.

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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