Aug 8, 2011

Just the Facts—The Nation’s Largest Universities

As you might have noticed, we’re in the middle of rankings season.

Princeton Review, USNWR, and even Forbes target this time of year to present college-bound students with their picks for top colleges in categories relevant to factors they consider important in college search and selection.

And so we learn about campus beauty, drinking habits, and dedication to sustainability. We get insight into the opinions of current students, college administrators, and alums.

But it’s mostly just that—opinion—not much more accurate than what you or I may think on any given day.

So to counter some the more “subjective” lists generated by publications looking to increase sales, I’m using this week to present a few more objective “rankings” based on more measurable or concrete facts.

Size Matters
When deciding on a college, students have a range of sizes to consider—from tiny Deep Springs College (26) to massive Arizona State University (68,064).

Or more locally, college-bound students may be attracted to Randolph College with a total enrollment of 500 (including a Master’s degree program) or Liberty University, which now enrolls over 46,000 students and is the largest private university in the country.

It’s no secret that the size of an enrollment class completely changes the culture of a school. Going to a college with 200 freshmen is entirely different from going to a university with 10,000 per class. And this covers everything from personal interaction with professors to the availability of specialized majors or undergrad research opportunities.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), the largest postsecondary institution in the US is the University of Phoenix (online campus) with 380,232 students. Kaplan University comes in a distant second with 71,011 students.

But if casts of thousands are not a problem, here is the list of the nation’s largest degree-granting nonprofit institutions:

  1. Arizona State University (68,064)

  2. Ohio State University, Main Campus (55,014)

  3. University of Central Florida (53,401)

  4. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (51,659)

  5. University of Texas at Austin (50,995)

  6. University of Florida (50,691)

  7. Texas A & M University (48,702)

  8. Michigan State University (47,071)

  9. Liberty University (46,312)

  10. University of Washington, Seattle Campus (45,943)

  11. Pennsylvania State University (45,185)

  12. University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign (43,881)

  13. New York University (43,404)

  14. Indiana University, Bloomington (42,347)

  15. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (41,674)

  16. University of Wisconsin, Madison (41,654)

  17. Purdue University (41,052)

  18. University of South Florida (40,022)

  19. Florida State University (39,785)

  20. Florida International University (39,610)

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