20 Biggest Colleges in the U.S.
- Pros and Cons of Attending a Big College
- 20 Biggest Colleges in the U.S.
- What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at the Biggest Colleges?
One of the biggest selling points for many colleges is the ability to offer students of diverse backgrounds a sense of community. Some schools are large enough to be considered towns in their own right!
With student bodies exceeding 15,000 students or more annually, the biggest colleges in the U.S. provide undergrads with a unique experience both academically and socially. Is a big school right for you? Keep reading to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of earning your degree at one of the country’s biggest universities.
Pros and Cons of Attending a Big College
The Benefits of Big Colleges
The biggest colleges in the U.S. can attract tens of thousands of students each year, and there’s a good reason for their popularity. Thanks to their size and wealth of resources, large colleges tend to offer a wide selection of majors as well as opportunities for state-of-the-art research with top faculty across disciplines. If you don’t know what you want to study, attending a larger school can be a great way to keep your options open later on.
Even if you are confident about your future goals, large schools tend to provide more opportunities for honing your skills and developing your talents than smaller schools. These institutions have more alumni and leveraging this expansive network can open up more internship and job opportunities down the line.
Additionally, big schools usually offer more options for studying abroad. If you’re majoring in Italian, spending a summer perfecting your language skills in Rome can be a big plus.
Large schools are ideal for students who enjoy meeting new people and experiencing new things. From niche clubs and student organizations to intramural sports and volunteer opportunities, the extracurricular options at the biggest universities in the U.S. are virtually endless. And, of course, you’ll have plenty of chances to make new friends along the way.
The Drawbacks of Big Colleges
Attending a big school can, of course, have its drawbacks. Students who are introverted or hesitant to speak out in class may find themselves getting lost in a larger school. If you enjoy having one-on-one attention from your instructors, the 500-person lectures common at larger schools may leave you feeling less than satisfied.
That said, larger colleges and universities typically offer opportunities to enroll in honors programs and smaller special interest programs that help students connect with smaller cohorts of peers. These programs sometimes even include specialized coursework and residential options.
20 Biggest Colleges in the U.S.
Boasting a wide array of academic concentrations, extracurriculars, and potential friends, big colleges come with a surplus of opportunities. If studying at one of the biggest colleges in the U.S. sounds right for you, consider the schools on this list.
Location: Tempe, AZ
Undergraduate Enrollment: 64,700
CollegeVine Ranking: #297
Acceptance Rate: 88%
With four campuses throughout the state, ASU is one of the biggest universities in the U.S. Students can select from more than 300 major programs and over 500 organizations and clubs, such as The Underground Foundation, which hosts regular music, art, and literature events.
The school also earns high marks for its research efforts; U.S. News and World Report recently ranked ASU number one in innovation for the eighth consecutive year.
Location: Orlando, FL
Undergraduate Enrollment: 59,900
CollegeVine Ranking: #168
Acceptance Rate: 36%
One of the largest colleges in the U.S., the University of Central Florida is based in Orlando but includes regional campuses across the Sunshine State. UCF offers a plethora of majors and hundreds of concentrations, including uncommon programs like Marine and Aquatic Biology and Golf Management.
Additionally, many students participate in the school’s Greek system, which boasts more than 40 fraternities and sororities.
Location: College Station, TX
Undergraduate Enrollment: 56,700
CollegeVine Ranking: #137
Acceptance Rate: 64%
Texas A&M boasts more than 130 undergraduate degree programs and places a strong focus on research, making it a popular choice among students with a passion for math and science. It should also come as no surprise that a college nicknamed the “Aggies” excels at agriculture.
Texas A&M offers more than just academics—the Huffington Post named Texas A&M as the happiest college campus in the U.S.
Location: Columbus, OH
Undergraduate Enrollment: 47,100
CollegeVine Ranking: #116
Acceptance Rate: 57%
Along with more than 150 majors, OSU offers a Personalized Study Program which allows students to build their own curriculum. In their free time, undergraduates participate in more than 1,000 campus clubs and organizations.
The student body is especially passionate about athletics, with options ranging from football to synchronized swimming to Quidditch.
Location: Austin, TX
Undergraduate Enrollment: 40,900
CollegeVine Ranking: #71
Acceptance Rate: 29%
The University of Texas at Austin is made up of 18 schools and colleges, including the McCombs School of Business, the Cockrell School of Engineering, and the School of Nursing. UT Austin provides a vast array of majors and classwork for undecided and decided students alike.
Additionally, undergraduates have the opportunity to enjoy everything the surrounding city of Austin has to offer, including a vibrant nightlife, robust music scene, and plenty of great food.
Location: University Park, PA
Undergraduate Enrollment: 40,300
CollegeVine Ranking: #134
Acceptance Rate: 54%
Penn State is one of the biggest colleges in the U.S., but it’s also one of the most recognizable institutions in higher education thanks to its stellar programs in fields like business, engineering, and computer science. Penn State has a legendary football team, vibrant Greek Life, and a reputation for excellent student life.
Penn State also boasts the nation’s largest alumni network, providing graduates with plenty of resources when it comes to finding mentors and pursuing job opportunities.
Location: East Lansing, MI
Undergraduate Enrollment: 38,500
CollegeVine Ranking: #188
Acceptance Rate: 83%
With more than 200 undergraduate and graduate programs of study, Michigan State University has it all. The school offers typical courses like biology, business, and English, but is also renowned for its journalism and biomedical sciences majors.
Michigan State University is also a great choice for students hoping to study abroad during their college career—the school currently offers over 275 study-abroad programs in cities around the world.
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Undergraduate Enrollment: 37,800
CollegeVine Ranking: #119
Acceptance Rate: 69%
Purdue has had the largest or second-largest undergraduate engineering enrollment in the country for more than 25 years. Sometimes called the “cradle of astronauts,” Purdue alumni have flown on 37% of all human space flights and include Neil Armstrong, the first person to visit the moon, and Gene Cernan, the last person to visit the moon.
While engineering is often in the spotlight, Purdue offers a wide variety of academic pursuits with more than 200 majors and 6,700 courses through its 10 schools.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Undergraduate Enrollment: 37,400
CollegeVine Ranking: #392
Acceptance Rate: 87%
The University of Arizona has most colleges in the country beat in the number of sunny days—its home city of Tucson receives 350 days of sunshine annually. Tucson also provides a multitude of great food and is recognized as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
On campus, the college offers over 150 majors, boasts a low 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and has more than 400 student organizations and clubs. The University of Arizona is also one of the best Hispanic-Serving Institutions in the nation.
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Undergraduate Enrollment: 36,200
CollegeVine Ranking: #117
Acceptance Rate: 73%
Minnesota is just one of five universities in the nation with an engineering school, medical school, law school, veterinary medicine school, and agricultural school all on one campus. The university is home to more than 50,000 total students and 20,000 faculty and staff. Minnesota offers 150 undergraduate majors, with computer science, biology, and economics among its most popular programs.
The university has also been a birthplace of innovation; its faculty are responsible for inventing things like the pacemaker and retractable seat belts.
Location: New Brunswick, NJ
Undergraduate Enrollment: 36,100
CollegeVine Ranking: #140
Acceptance Rate: 68%
With a long and distinguished history (it’s the eighth-oldest college in the U.S.) and a location in a suburb of the nation’s largest city (New York City), Rutgers draws students from across the world.
The school is home to over 67,000 undergrad and graduate students from all 50 states, more than 120 countries, and six continents. Rutgers teaches more than 25,000 classes annually.
Location: Gainesville, FL
Undergraduate Enrollment: 34,800
CollegeVine Ranking: #67
Acceptance Rate: 30%
Despite its large student population, the University of Florida delivers small classes—its student-to-teacher ratio is just 17:1, and more than half of its undergraduate courses have fewer than 20 students in them. University of Florida is also great at keeping costs low. In 2021, in-state tuition and fees were just $6,380, substantially lower than the national average at other highly ranked public universities.
Sports are a large part of the appeal of attending the University of Florida. Florida Athletics holds 45 national titles in 11 different sports.
Location: Champaign, IL
Undergraduate Enrollment: 34,700
CollegeVine Ranking: #133
Acceptance Rate: 60%
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has more students of color on campus than any other top-ranked Midwest university. These students will find seemingly unlimited opportunities on campus—the school offers more than 7,000 different classes, 150 majors, and 300 study-abroad programs in 70 countries.
Additionally, UIUC also has a big-time reputation for fun. The college routinely ranks as one of the best party schools in the nation and has a well-deserved reputation for its vibrant Greek Life—it’s home to 49 fraternities and 38 sororities.
Location: Northridge, CA
Undergraduate Enrollment: 34,400
CollegeVine Ranking: #366
Acceptance Rate: 88%
Cal State Northridge offers 68 undergraduate degrees through its nine colleges, ranging from American Indian Studies to Theatre. CSUN is located in the Northridge neighborhood of Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, which offers a variety of educational, professional, and cultural opportunities.
CSUN is the largest Hispanic-Serving Institution in the California State University system. More than half of CSUN’s student body is made up of Latino students and it ranks second in the nation for awarding bachelor’s degrees to Latino students.
Location: Bloomington, IN
Undergraduate Enrollment: 34,200
CollegeVine Ranking: #199
Acceptance Rate: 85%
Entertainment is one appealing aspect of attending Indiana—the school stages more than 1,000 performances annually at venues such as its acclaimed Musical Arts Center, which is often compared to the New York Metropolitan Opera.
Additionally, Indiana hosts the Little 500—the largest collegiate bike race in the United States. The event is modeled after the Indianapolis 500 and riders compete in four-person teams around a quarter-mile track.
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Undergraduate Enrollment: 33,500
CollegeVine Ranking: #114
Acceptance Rate: 37%
With a sterling reputation for everything from research to athletics to student life, FSU attracts students from across the Sunshine State, the country, and the globe—FSU’s 45,000+ total students come from every Florida county and 130 countries.
Interest in attending FSU continues to grow; it annually receives more than 60,000 applications for admission to its undergraduate programs. In 2019, the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship became the nation’s first stand-alone college of entrepreneurship and FSU’s 17th college.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Undergraduate Enrollment: 32,100
CollegeVine Ranking: #55
Acceptance Rate: 11%
UCLA isn’t just one of the country’s biggest colleges, it’s also one of the best public universities in the U.S. Consequently, UCLA can count itself among the nation’s most prestigious and selective schools. UCLA offers students access to both world-class academics and athletics—it has won the second-most NCAA national championships and produced the second-most Olympians of any college in the country.
Outside of academics and athletics, students are attracted to UCLA’s idyllic climate, LA location, incredible campus, and delicious food.
Location: Tuscaloosa, AL
Undergraduate Enrollment: 31,600
CollegeVine Ranking: #179
Acceptance Rate: 79%
In 2022, the University of Alabama welcomed its largest freshman class ever (8,037 students) while also hitting its all-time high in the enrollment of Black and Hispanic students. It is also a quality school. Alabama has been a top producer of Fulbright Scholars for six of the past eight years and has produced 62 Goldwater Scholars and 16 Rhodes Scholars.
In addition to academics, the University of Alabama is known for its athletics, particularly football. The school has won 18 national football championships, more than any other college.
Location: Ames, IA
Undergraduate Enrollment: 25,800
CollegeVine Ranking: #308
Acceptance Rate: 91%
Iowa State University offers over 100 majors, ranging from aerospace engineering to women and gender studies, through its six colleges. The university is a member of the Association of American Universities, a select group consisting of 62 leading research universities in North America, and is the birthplace of the first electronic digital computer.
In addition to a large undergraduate population, Iowa State University is also home to a research lab for the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA’s Iowa Space Grant Consortium.
Location: Madison, WI
Undergraduate Enrollment: 34,500
CollegeVine Ranking: #97
Acceptance Rate: 60%
With a total number of students near 50,000, the University of Wisconsin can seem like a city unto itself, but that doesn’t stop Wisconsin undergraduates from interacting with the world around them. Study-abroad participation at Wisconsin is among the highest in the nation—2,547 students took part in 2018-19. Wisconsin also ranks as a top producer of Peace Corps volunteers.
On campus, students from all 50 states are represented along with 116 countries. When they graduate, they will join the university’s near-500,000 alumni.
What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at the Biggest Colleges?
If you’re determined to attend a large college, CollegeVine’s free chancing engine can help you determine your odds of admission. Simply submit details of your academic and extracurricular history to discover your chances of getting into 1500+ colleges across the country, including the biggest colleges in the U.S.
This tool will let you know your odds of acceptance at specific schools and will give you tips on improving your profile. Try putting in these 20 schools and any others that have caught your eye, so that you can narrow down your list and ultimately apply to 2-3 safety schools, 4-5 target schools, and 2-3 reach schools.