The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.
As students go through the college search process, they should keep in mind how the school's size can ultimately affect their academic experience on campus.
Smaller colleges may provide students with more opportunities to have direct access to their instructors and to create working relationships with classmates. Larger universities, on the other hand, can offer expansive options of academic and extracurricular programs, cutting-edge research facilities, and a large alumni base for networking.
[Learn six ways to network while in college.]
According to 1,274 ranked colleges and universities that reported undergraduate student data to U.S. News in the 2012 annual survey, the average undergraduate population for fall 2011 was 6,057 students. But among the 10 universities with the largest undergraduate populations, the average was more than seven times the size of the national average: 44,600 students.
DeVry University, a for-profit academic institution with more than 90 campuses across North America, encompasses the largest undergraduate population in the country with 70,158 students—exceeding the next school by nearly 12,000 students. Arizona State University, which had previously led this list in 2011, placed second this year, with an undergraduate population of 58,404. Nine of the 10 schools on the list are classified as National Universities, which are institutions that offer undergraduate, master's, and Ph.D. programs.
[Discover 10 steps to picking the right school for you.]
Among the 10 schools with the most undergraduate students, two states—Florida and Texas—have more than one school on the list: the University of Central Florida and Florida International University, and Texas A&M University—College Station and the University of Texas—Austin.
Schools that were designated by U.S. News as Unranked were not considered for this report. U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for Unranked programs because the program did not meet certain criteria that U.S. News requires to be numerically ranked.
The table below highlights the 10 universities with the largest undergraduate student enrollment for fall 2011.
|School name (state)||Undergraduate student enrollment||U.S. News rank & category|
|DeVry University (IL)||70,158||RNP*, Regional Universities (Midwest)|
|Arizona State University||58,404||139, National Universities|
|University of Central Florida||49,900||174, National Universities|
|Ohio State University—Columbus||42,916||56, National Universities|
|Texas A&M University—College Station||39,867||65, National Universities|
|Pennsylvania State University—University Park||38,954||46, National Universities|
|University of Texas—Austin||38,437||46, National Universities|
|Michigan State University||36,675||72, National Universities|
|Florida International University||35,875||RNP, National Universities|
|University of Minnesota—Twin Cities||34,812||68, National Universities|
*RNP denotes an institution that is ranked in the bottom one fourth of its rankings category. U.S. News calculates a rank for the school but has decided not to publish it.
Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find admissions data, complete rankings, and much more.
U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2012 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The undergraduate enrollment data above are correct as of Nov. 6, 2012.