The 25 Best Large Colleges – 2016 University Rankings

25 Best Large CollegesMany students are looking for a college experience with a huge campus with thousands of students, football games, and 300-person lectures. Not only do big colleges have more students, but they are often known (whether true or not) for providing bigger opportunities and more freedom to students.

If you’re looking for a college where you’ll be surrounded by tens of thousands of other undergrads, then our list of the best large colleges is just the place to look.

We looked at every college with more than 10,000 undergraduates enrolled and ranked them based on academic and outcome factors, including graduation rates, loan default rates, selectivity, diversity, and more.

Here are the 25 best large colleges in the U.S.:


25. University of Georgia

University of Georgia - Best Large Colleges

By Josh Hallett from Winter Haven, FL, USA (University of Georgia – Athens, GA) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Athens, GA

Undergraduate enrollment: 26,278

Home to more than 26,000 undergraduate students, the University of Georgia is the United States’ oldest state-chartered university. The main campus in Athens is made up of nearly 400 buildings and 17 separate schools and colleges dedicated to subjects ranging from Journalism to Ecology.

Learn more about the University of Georgia


24. University of Wisconsin-Madison

University of Wisconsin-Madison - Best Large Colleges

University of Wisconsin campus. Source: Flickr user ssshupe

Madison, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 30,728

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has more than 30,000 undergraduate Badgers enrolled, making it one of the largest colleges in the nation. First envisioned by then-president Charles Van Hise in 1904, UW-Madison is known for adhering to “The Wisconsin Idea”–a commitment that all work conducted at the university will be meant to better the lives of citizens across the entire state of Wisconsin.

Learn more about the University of Wisconsin-Madison


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23. SUNY at Binghamton

SUNY at Binghamton - Best Large Colleges

Academic A, School of Management, Binghamton University” by Greynol1 (talk) (Uploads) – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Vestal, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 12,997

With just under 13,000 undergraduate students, SUNY Binghamton (or Binghamton University) is located just north of the New York/Pennsylvania border. Founded in 1946, BU has grown from a small liberal arts college to a large research university, which now grants Doctoral degrees.

Learn more about SUNY at Binghamton


22. The University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Austin - Best Large Colleges

Nhb utexas” by Jr1038Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Austin, TX

Undergraduate enrollment: 39,979

This public research university in the always-quirky city of Austin boasts a whopping undergraduate enrollment of nearly 40,000 students. UT Austin puts its $3 billion endowment to good use, not only by funding its massive sports programs, but also keeping the doors open at the 7 museums and 17 libraries found on campus.

Learn more about the University of Texas at Austin


21. Miami University-Oxford

Miami University-Oxford - Best Large Colleges

Muohioharrison“. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Oxford, OH

Undergraduate enrollment: 15,462

Often known as “Miami of Ohio”, Miami University is a public research university with more than 15,000 undergraduates enrolled. The university maintains 7 schools and colleges, including the Farmer’s School of Business, which offers 8 undergraduate majors and is recognized nationally and internationally for educational excellence.

Learn more about Miami University-Oxford


20. University of Washington-Seattle

University of Washington-Seattle - Best Large Colleges

University of Washington Quad, Spring 2007” by Punctured BicycleOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Seattle, WA

Undergraduate enrollment: 29,756

Located just to the north of downtown Seattle, the University of Washington’s main campus houses just under 30,000 undergraduate students and is comprised of more than 500 buildings. Known the world over for its top-tier medical program, the university has an operating and research budget of more than $6 billion annually.

Learn more about the University of Washington-Seattle


19. University of California-Irvine

University of California-Irvine - Best Large Colleges

Engineering,UCI” by RoyWrightDavis Wiki. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons.

Irvine, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 23,530

UC Irvine offers more than 80 undergraduate and 94 graduate degrees. The campus, located in the southern Los Angeles suburbs, attracts well over 20,000 undergraduate students.

Learn more about University of California-Irvine


18. Boston University

Boston University - Best Large Colleges

Marsh Chapel” by Brian Chang-Yun HsuOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Boston, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 18,165

Boston University, or BU, is a private research university that enrolls more than 18,000 undergrads just west of downtown Boston. The sprawling urban campus spans more than 1.5 miles and is separated into the Main Charles River Campus and the West Campus by the Boston University Bridge, which spans the Charles River to the north.

Learn more about Boston University


17. University of Florida

University of Florida - Best Large Colleges

Source: Flickr user necosky.

Gainesville, FL

Undergraduate enrollment: 33,168

With more than 30,000 undergrads on campus, the University of Florida offers 16 academic colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes. Many of UF’s programs have been nationally recognized, including top-10 nods for Audiology, Analytical Chemistry, and Occupational Therapy.

Learn more about University of Florida


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16. University of California-San Diego

University of California-San Diego - Best Large Colleges

Price Center, UCSD” by Alex HansenDSC00047. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

San Diego, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 23,805

UC San Diego, a public research university, is known for its unique structure, in which it offers students the choice to enroll in 1 of 6 residential colleges. Each of the 6 options offers not only different areas of study but also different philosophical approaches to learning and education. As a whole, the campus enrolls more than 23,000 students and is just minutes from the Pacific coast.

Learn more about University of California-San Diego


15. University of California-Santa Barbara

University of California-Santa Barbara - Best Large Colleges

De La Guerra dining common, UCSB” by Carl Jantzen from Santa Barbara, California, United States of America – The DLG. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.

Santa Barbara, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 19,362

Originally founded as a teacher’s college, UC Santa Barbara has grown to enroll nearly 20,000 undergrads on its campus just outside of Los Angeles, overlooking the Pacific. In 2015, UCSB was designated as a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) and its faculty currently includes 6 Nobel Prize laureates.

Learn more about the University of California-Santa Barbara


14. George Washington University

George Washington University - Best Large Colleges

Professor’s Gate – GWU” by AgnosticPreachersKidOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Washington, D.C.

Undergraduate enrollment: 10,357

Located just a few blocks from the White House and other D.C. landmarks, George Washington University is home to more than 10,000 undergrads studying at 10 different schools and colleges. In 1821, GW was first chartered as Columbian College, but later re-named to honor the first president.

Learn more about George Washington University


13. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois and Urbana-Champaign - Best Large Colleges

Beckman Institute – UIUC – DSC09175” by Daderot – I took this photograph.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Champaign, IL

Undergraduate enrollment: 32,695

With more than 30,000 undergraduates, more than 150 undergraduate programs, and 100 graduate programs, the University of Illinois has a lot to offer. Known as one of the most selective public research universities, UI has made a name for itself as a top-tier science and engineering school, driving innovation in fields such as supercomputing. Illinois was cited in 2004 by Bill Gates, in which he stated that Microsoft hired more grads from this college than any other school in the world.

Learn more about University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


12. University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT

Undergraduate enrollment: 18,032

UConn is a public research university with more than 18,000 undergraduate students. The college offers more than 100 undergraduate majors and boasts an impressive 93% retention rate for first-year students returning their sophomore year.

Learn more about University of Connecticut


11. University of Maryland-College Park

College Park, MD

Undergraduate enrollment: 10,614

Located just northeast of Washington D.C., the University of Maryland is a public research university with more than 10,000 undergraduates studying one of the 127 degrees granted. Because of its proximity to the nation’s capital, UMD is often contracted by federal programs such as NASA and Homeland Security to participate in research partnerships.

Learn more about University of Maryland-College Park


10. New York University

New York University - Best Large Colleges

Source: Flickr user aidaneus.

New York, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 22,615

NYU is a private research university that enrolls more than 22,000 undergraduate students and has an endowment of more than $3.5 billion. More than 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students live in one of the college’s extensive on-campus housing developments, which are found throughout the main campus area primarily located in Greenwich Village.

Learn more about New York University


9. University of Southern California

University of Southern California - Best Large Colleges

Doheny” by Padsquad19 at the English language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Los Angeles, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 18,445

USC is a large, private research university located in Los Angeles. It’s home to more than 18,000 undergraduate students and has the country’s oldest and largest cinematic arts school. USC is recognized as having graduated the fourth most billionaires of any undergraduate college in the world.

Learn more about University of Southern California


8. University of California-Los Angeles

University of California-Los Angles - Best Large Colleges

Royce Hall post rain” by AltonOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Los Angeles, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 28,674

The University of California-Los Angeles, or UCLA, is the second-oldest college in the UC system, having been added after Berkeley. UCLA is not only known for top-tier academics as a public research university, but its student-athletes are also world-renowned, having amassed 250 total Olympic medals, including at least one gold medal in every Olympics the U.S. has participated in since the year 1932.

Learn more about University of California-Los Angeles


7. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Best Large Colleges

UNC South Building” by YeungbOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons.

Chapel Hill, NC

Undergraduate enrollment: 18,370

UNC Chapel Hill is a public research university located in north-central North Carolina. The college town of Chapel Hill houses an undergraduate population of more than 18,000 students, including students from all 50 states. UNC Chapel Hill offers more than 300 study-abroad programs in 70 different countries.

Learn more about University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


6. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI

Undergraduate enrollment: 28,283

Located in southeastern Michigan, U of M is a public research university that enrolls about 28,300 undergraduate students. The university offers many majors for undergraduate students, but its top 3 majors are Experimental Psychology, Business Administration, and Economics.

Learn about University of Michigan-Ann Arbor


5. University of California-Berkeley

University of California-Berkeley - Best Large Colleges

UCBerkeleyCampus” by brainchildvn on Flickr – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Berkeley, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 25,951

UC Berkeley is a public research university in the San Francisco Bay area. The California flagship educates the most diverse undergraduate student body of any public university in the U.S., made up of about 26,000 students. Common major choices include Economics, Cell and Molecular Biology, and General Biology.

Learn more about University of California-Berkeley


4. Cornell University

Cornell University - Best Large Colleges

Matt Hintsa via Flickr

Ithaca, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 14,393

Cornell is located in the Finger Lakes regions of New York near Cayuga Lake. The research university enrolls around 14,400 undergraduate students and about half that many graduate students. Biology, Hotel Administration, and Labor and Industrial Relations are Cornell’s top three undergraduate majors.

Learn more about Cornell University


3. University of Virginia-Main Campus

University of Virginia - Best Large Colleges

Bob Mical via Flickr

Charlottesville, VA

Undergraduate enrollment: 16,087

UVA is a public research university located in north-central Virginia near the Appalachian Mountains. It boasts an undergraduate enrollment of about 16,000 students and has the highest first-year retention rate of any college in the Southeast. Business, Liberal Studies, and Biology are UVA’s 3 most popular undergraduate major choices.

Learn more about the University of Virginia


2. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Undergraduate enrollment: 11,525

Penn, located in Pennsylvania’s largest city, has a total undergraduate enrollment of about 11,500 students. Its three most popular undergrad majors are Finance, Nursing, and Economics. At 87 percent, Penn has the highest 4-year graduation rate of any college in Pennsylvania.

Learn more about University of Pennsylvania


1. Harvard University

Harvard University - Best Large Colleges

Chensiyuan via Wikimedia Commons

Cambridge, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 10,534

Harvard is a major research institution located in the Boston area. The college enrolls about 10,500 undergrads among whom popular majors include economics, social sciences, and political science. The university boasts the largest endowment of any higher learning institution in the country.

Learn more about Harvard University

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

View all of the 2016 Best Colleges rankings from College Raptor

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