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The 57 Biggest Colleges in the United States

Posted by Samantha Lindsay | Aug 4, 2019, 5:30:00 PM

College Admissions

 

feature_largestuniversities

You might be interested in attending a big college, but just how big are you thinking? Some schools have over 40,000 undergraduates, making them the size of a small city. These schools can provide great opportunities to students, but they can also be a little overwhelming.

In this article, I’ll give you a list of the 57 biggest colleges for undergraduates in the US along with student feedback about what it’s really like to be part of such a large college community.

 

Why Are These Colleges So Big?

Most of the biggest colleges are public state universities. It makes sense that these schools attract the most students because they provide incentives for students who live in the state to attend.

The largest schools are located in the most populous states. Thus, California, Texas, and Florida (the three most populous states in the US) are home to many of the schools on this list.

These schools are also large because they are meccas for academic research and offer a wide variety of programs to students. Being located in populous states means that these universities must cater to diverse groups of people, leading to the creation of more academic options and research facilities that encourage even more students to enroll. It’s essentially a cycle of increasing returns for the schools. Public universities also have the resources to grow their campuses and facilities through government support.

There are some very large private colleges, but it’s difficult for them to rival the size of government-funded public universities. Other circumstances have contributed to the growth of big private colleges, from wealthy alumni to religious connections. For example, Brigham Young University—the private college with the largest undergraduate population—has grown so large mainly due to its affiliation with the (rapidly expanding) Mormon Church.

 

What’s It Like at a Huge College?

Here are some testimonials from students about what it’s like to attend three of the largest colleges in the country.

 

Texas A&M University

“I don't regret one moment, because I loved the overall camaraderie of the school—they don't call it the friendliest campus in America without reason!”

“I am a theatre major at Texas A&M, a program most people are unaware even exists. It is tough being in a small department in a large school, but simply due to the Aggie Network and facilities present for all students, even those of us in small departments are learning as much as we possibly can.

Students have access to different student services, like a writing center that will help with papers and research, a testing center that will help you to study better and make learning easier, an on-campus health center, and even small things that make huge differences like 300 free prints a semester in the computer center and access to free programs at the recreation center.”

“Texas A&M is an excellent university for those students who love or don't mind traditions.

 

body_texasam-1The administration building at Texas A&M

 

Purdue University

I really enjoy the classes I am taking, and the social life is awesome! There is definitely something for everyone. Whether you are wanting to get involved in Greek life or maybe just a few clubs, it all is available at Purdue. Being able to attend Big Ten sporting events isn't so bad either.”

Purdue has something to offer for everyone, no matter where they come from, what their major is, or what their interests are. It is a well-rounded university, full of students who are proud to study there.”

“I used to think I wanted to go to a small school, but at Purdue, you get both the big-school and small-school experience. Attention in classes (sometimes you have to seek it out, but it's there), but huge atmosphere where the possibilities are endless.”

 

body_purdueA fountain on Purdue's campus

 

UCLA

“It will be entirely up to you to do homework problems and to go to office hours for questions and insight. Self-motivation, especially in science and math courses, is a key factor to success here.

“At UCLA, the world awaits. Shy and overly reserved people will miss out on all that the school has to offer.

“At this university, I am receiving the total package: academics, research, and world-renowned athletic programs. I can honestly say that the balanced undergraduate experience I am obtaining is worth every penny.”

“With hundreds of student organizations available every year, UCLA makes it easy to find one’s niche.

“The diversity here is truly astounding, with people from all types of backgrounds, and you truly gain a more global perspective.

 

body_ucla-1The UCLA campus

 

At these schools, you can expect virtually endless resources, diversity, and extracurricular activities, but you have to be willing to get yourself out there and be self-motivated. If you’re a driven, outgoing student, you’re likely to thrive at a huge college.

 


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The Biggest Colleges (Public and Private)

I’ve included two lists: one for the biggest public colleges, and one for the biggest private colleges.

The public colleges below have more than 25,000 undergraduates, and the private colleges have more than 15,000 undergraduates. I did not include colleges where a large portion of the student body is composed of online students because this doesn’t create the same environment as a school that has a huge on-campus population.

All schools below are arranged by undergraduate enrollment, from largest to smallest. In addition, all enrollment statistics are for fall 2018 unless otherwise noted.

 

Biggest Public Colleges in the US by On-Campus Undergraduate Enrollment

College Undergraduate Enrollment
University of Central Florida 58,913
Texas A&M University — College Station 53,743
The Ohio State University — Columbus 46,820
Arizona State University — Tempe 42,844
UT Austin 40,804
Penn State University — University Park 40,363
Michigan State University 39,423
Utah Valley University 39,397
University of Houston 38,348
Florida International University 37,047*
Rutgers University — New Brunswick 36,039
University of Florida 35,491
University of Arizona 35,223
California State University — Northridge 34,900
California State University — Fullerton 34,468
Texas State University 34,200
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 33,673
University of Alabama 33,028
Indiana University — Bloomington 32,991
Purdue University 32,672
Kennesaw State University 32,274
University of South Florida — Tampa 32,238
University of Washington — Seattle 32,099
Texas Tech University 31,957
UCLA 31,577
University of Minnesota — Twin Cities 31,455
California State University — Long Beach 31,447
University of North Texas 31,347
University of California — Berkeley 30,853
University of Maryland — College Park 30,762
University of California — Davis 30,718
San Diego State University 30,392
University of Wisconsin — Madison 30,360
University of Michigan — Ann Arbor 30,318
University of Colorado Boulder 30,152
University of California — Irvine 29,736
Temple University 29,672
Iowa State University 29,621
University of Georgia 29,611
Florida State University — Tallahassee 28,728
University of Texas at Arlington 28,329
California State University — Sacramento 28,317
University of Texas at San Antonio 27,988
Weber State University 27,465
San José State University 27,271
Virginia Tech 27,193**
Georgia State University 27,190
Northern Arizona University 27,078
University of Cincinnati 26,932
University of South Carolina 26,733
San Francisco State University 26,436
George Mason University 26,192

*Fall 2019 data
**Fall 2017 data

 

Biggest Private Colleges in the US by On-Campus Undergraduate Enrollment

College Undergraduate Enrollment
Brigham Young University 31,441
New York University 29,406
University of Southern California 19,907
Boston University 18,515
Northeastern University 18,448

 

 

More Resources for Researching Big Colleges

If you know you're interested in attending a big school but aren't sure which one is right for you or are worried about how different it will be from high school, consider checking out the following books:

 

What's Next?

Is a big college the right choice for you? Read my article on deciding whether big or small schools will work better for your goals and personality.

Worried about increasingly higher tuition price tags? Find out how much it really costs to attend college.

Another decision you'll have to make before you apply to college is how far away you want to go. Check out this article on whether you should attend college close to home.

 

These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.

 

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Samantha Lindsay
About the Author

Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.



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