50 Safest Large Colleges and Universities in America
| Staff Writers
Are you ready to find your fit?
Safety may connote patrol cars and uniformed security, but college safety actually encompasses an array of student health, wellness, and security issues. Campus safety doesn’t just mean low crime rates and the lack of a party scene—though it could mean those things—it also includes low rates of discrimination, a strong VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) presence, and a number of services and programs that maintain the holistic wellness of their students.
Whether you want to attend a small liberal arts college or a large research university, safety should be a huge consideration before putting together those application materials. Clearly, if you’ve landed on this ranking, you are thinking about attending a larger school, perhaps one with tens of thousands of students and substantive academic opportunities, athletic programs, and a vibrant social life. Perhaps you’re wondering how safe a large school can actually be.
Though it may make sense to assume that the smaller the university or college, the safer it is, and therefore vice versa: the larger the university the more dangerous it is. But it’s just not true. In fact, one of the safest universities in the country is also one of the largest (see number 50). Because of their size, the colleges and universities below are able to employ substantive safety departments, create an array of preventative programs, and implement innovative technology in their safety procedures and plans. Either way, whether a university enrolls 1,000 or 65,000 undergraduates, safety is a key component to a healthy campus. This is why College Choice has created the ultimate list of the safest large (15,000 or more students) colleges and universities. To see our ranking for the 50 safest small colleges and universities, head here.
What are the safest large universities?
At College Choice we believe in providing the most thorough data that reflects our extensive and exhaustive research findings. To find the safest colleges we have combed through those campuses, as well as their local cities and neighbors, that boast the lowest crime rates. We further pared from there by collating the reported crime activities from each school for the past three years. We pulled data on the respective school’s general crime report as well as the number of documented hate crimes, violence against women, arrests made, fire incidences, and discipline enforced activities for each in the last three years.
More on the Data Points:
General safety grade:
The general safety grade takes into account the past three years of theft, assault, arson, and other offense.
Anti-discrimination grade: This reflects the number of hate crimes reported by a school over the past three years.
Women’s safety grade: This reflects the overall VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) offenses that have occurred in the past three years, including domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault.
Party scene grade: This takes into account the number of drug and alcohol incidents a campus reported over the past five years.
Fire safety grade: This reflects the number of reported fires in the past three years.
Thomas Edison State University receives perfect marks in safety. In the last three years they have not had to report one petty or violent crime, VAWA violation, fire incident, arrest, or alcohol/drug infraction. Despite the largeness of the campus (just under 20,000 students), it is one of the safest in the country. This is perhaps due in part to the university’s mission to serve adult learners as well as its sizable online platform. Most students, though on campus for a number reasons, are supplementing their learning with digital means.
Until last year Thomas Edison State University—a public institution located in Trenton, New Jersey—was recognized as a college. But in 2015 it gained full university status. With the goal of providing flexible education opportunities to adult learners, Thomas Edison’s curriculum and learning structure is marked by diversity, innovation, and interdisciplinary pedagogy. For this reason, the school has earned accolades from a number of sources, from Forbes to the New York Times, the latter praising its integration of technology in the classroom. Students can earn certification or an associate, bachelor, or masters degree in over 100 fields at Thomas Edison.
Thomas Edison State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Aside from only a small handful of burglaries and liquor law violations, CUNY’s Baruch College has not reported any violent or non-violent crimes in the past three years. For a school located in the middle of a major metropolitan setting, these numbers are even more impressive. The Department of Public Safety at Baruch has taken care to balance protection with communication and service. In addition to offering escort aid, counseling, vehicle assists, and campus notifications, the security team at Baruch is thoroughly trained on legal issues, effective communication, customer service, substance abuse, and disability awareness.
Part of the CUNY (City University of New York) system, Bernard M. Baruch College is located in Manhattan and specializes in business, communications, finance, and public affairs degrees. Baruch holds many awards and has been lauded for its diversity, social mobility, affordability, and academic reputation. The College is also comprised of many research institutes and learning centers and is in partnership with major corporations (such as JP Morgan Chase) and graduate business and law schools.
Baruch College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Despite also being located in a major city, the University of Houston–Downtown has only a few reported minor crimes (burglary, robbery, alcohol violation) in the last three years. It is one of the safest campuses in the country and boasts a highly involved on-campus police department (UHDPD). Enacting their stated values of integrity, honesty, fairness, courage, compassion, and accountability, the UHDPD makes available all of their procedures and crime reports, they provide safety tips and resources, and they employ a breadth of preventative measures.
Spread throughout the north end of downtown Houston, this branch of the University of Houston system is made up of four major academic colleges: business, humanities and social sciences, public service, and science and technology. The University of Houston–Downtown (UHD) is well ranked, usually counted as among the top ten top public institutions located in the West, and it offers its largely undergraduate student population nearly fifty areas of academic study.
The University of Houston–Downtown is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
At the University of Massachusetts Boston, safety is paired with cultural awareness. Hence, there are zero reports of hate crimes in the last few years. The school’s chief of police has explained that, “The constant societal and demographic changes in our community require us to make diversity and adaptability top priorities.” Also crucial to maintaining a safe campus is the Massachusetts Campus Watch program, which is a cooperative program among students, faculty, staff, and campus police that seeks to build strong community accountability and commitment to addressing life issues related to public safety.
Known as UMass Boston, the University of Massachusetts Boston is the only public university in Boston. It is comprised of eleven schools and colleges and offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees through its many areas of study. A number of research institutes are affiliated with UMass Boston, including the Center for Social Development, the Institute for Community Inclusion, the Urban Harbors Institute, the Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences, and more. Being that UMass Boston is situated on a peninsula, it is unique in both its location and its waterfront recreation program, which provides access to sailing, boat rentals, harbor cruises, and kayaking among others.
The University of Massachusetts Boston is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Due in part to its emphasis on online learning as well as its religious affiliation, Columbia College has made itself into one of the safest large colleges in the country. With only two petty crimes in the last three years, Columbia really only has alcohol and drug related violations on its crime record. To create a sustainable safe campus environment, Columbia has put many programs and services in place: twenty-four-hour campus patrol, safety and mechanical system monitoring, preventative measures, transparent crime reporting, emergency response, and substantive fire system monitoring.
Based in Columbia, Missouri, Columbia College is a private, non-profit liberal arts school affiliated with the Disciples of Christ Christian Church. Though primarily located in Missouri with ten campuses, Columbia also has campus in several other states and online (and even a campus in Cuba!). Undergraduates both live on these campuses and take part in the school’s large digital learning platform. There are over a dozen academic divisions, each offering several areas of study, from physics to nursing, philosophy, engineering, criminal justice, business, to fine arts.
Columbia College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
In the last few years, Brigham Young University has had zero liquor law violations, a feat nearly unheard of among universities its size. Though, it may not be so surprising, considering the school’s religious affiliation. Brigham Young also has many safety services they make available to their students, such as rape aggression defense classes, a safewalk program, bicycle registration, special event security, active gunman preparation training, and a full EMS team. A strict honor code students must abide by probably also lends to the low crime rates.
Brigham Young University (BYU) is known for being owned and run by Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church and for having a large student population (approximately 30,000), among whom nearly 99 percent are members of the LDS Church. But BYU is also known for its academic reputation, both nationally and globally. Its many academic programs have been praised by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, and others, and many Rhodes, Gates, and Fulbright scholars have graduated from BYU.
Brigham Young University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
At Oakland, safety does not just imply a lack of crime, it includes a holistic approach to health and happiness. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety is made up of a professional team who oversees the many aspects of a vibrant and secure campus: occupational health, construction safety, fire safety, and environmental protection. Clearly the team continues to be successful as Oakland’s criminal offenses are mostly limited to petty thefts.
Located in the suburbs outside of Detroit, Michigan, Oakland University is a public institution serving much of the East Michigan region. Students choose from over 130 undergraduate areas of study or from over 120 graduate programs in an array of disciplines and departments, though Oakland is most known for its business, nursing, engineering, and computer science programs. A substantive contributor to research, Oakland is home to a number of research institutes working on a diverse range of projects, from robotics to nanotechnology, autism, biomedicine, public affairs, and more.
Oakland University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
With low rates in hate crimes and violence against women, Sam Houston is notably safe for women and minorities. Its Safety Office is also one of the most encompassing on our list, as it monitors agricultural, biological, chemical, environmental, fire, laboratory, and traffic safety. Additionally, Sam Houston has programs covering injury and illness prevention, emergency preparedness, and life safety. This spectrum of services clearly reflects how seriously Sam Houston has taken its mission statement: to “embrace the University’s philosophy that stresses the holistic approach in our students growth in life. Therefore, our mission is to provide a safe environment on campus that is conducive to foster their successful development and education.”
Often just called SHSU or Sam, Sam Houston State University is a large public institution, and one of the oldest in Texas. Situated in Huntsville, about an hour from Houston, SHSU is a member of the Texas State University System. In addition to its traditional degrees, of which there are over 100, SHSU also offers online degree programs. The College of Criminal Justice is one of the best in the country, as is the theatre and dance program. Finally, Sam is unique its curriculum, which includes courses that promote the study of Texas history and culture.
Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Though Texas Woman’s University has been docked a few safety points for its small handful of assaults, burglaries, and thefts, it mostly has just minor alcohol infractions on its record. But relative to national averages, Texas Woman’s University is one of the top ten safest largest universities in the country. The TWU Department of Public Safety team has put measures in place to ensure the campus maintains its solid record: SHARP (sexual assault prevention) courses, daily crime logs, access to the local sex offenders registration, resources on racial profiling, and more.
Texas Woman’s University is actually a co-educational university, though it mostly made up of female students and is the largest state-supported university for women in the country. Campus is also home to “The Woman’s Collection,” a library of thousands of books, photographs, manuscripts, and periodicals by women. Also unique to TWU is a curricular requirement: all undergraduates, regardless of their degree, must take three credit hours of multicultural women’s studies in order to graduate. Mostly though, TWU is known for its health sciences and for nursing programs.
Texas Woman’s University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Like some of the other colleges and universities on our list, Weber State takes a holistic approach to providing and promoting safety on its campus. The Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) department is responsible for biosafety, proper disposal of hazardous materials, and occupational safety, offering training and resources that foster prevention, while Weber’s police department partners with the EHS department but handles security and enforcement. Most of the criminal offenses that have taken place on Weber State’s campus in the last few years are allocated to minor liquor and drug violations.
Located in Ogden, Utah, Weber State University is a major public university offering professional, liberal arts, and technical degrees in more than 250 areas. Though Weber offers degrees in a wide array of fields, it is known for its science, technology, business, and health colleges. Also unique to Weber is the option for students to obtain either a structured or unstructured interdisciplinary degree. Weber State was originally founded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but it now operates independently.
Weber State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Most of the crime reported by the administration at Utah State University is allocated to petty theft and alcohol infractions—there have been few to no violent crimes in the last three years. This is most likely due to the thorough efforts made by USU’s Department of Public Safety, a department that consists of a fire chief, a full police department, and emergency management crew. USU students are able to access a ton of health and safety resources, services, and programs provided by the school.
A large public university located in Logan, Utah, Utah State University is a space and land grant institution known for its research contributions. Among its many rankings and recognitions, USU has fostered a number of Rhodes Scholars, MacArthur Fellows, and Nobel Prize winners. One of the biggest schools on our list with nearly 30,000 students, USU is made up of nine colleges and offers nearly 200 bachelors degrees, as well as over one hundred graduate degrees.
Utah State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Nova Southeastern University has an extremely safe campus, with low violent and non-violent crime rates; the blemishes on its safety record are mostly from minor drug and liquor law offenses. Offering a number of services—from safety escorts to auto assistance—the security team at NSU takes a personal approach to protection and service. Further, students at NSU can opt into the campus safety notification system, which keeps them apprised of any incidents, from the criminal to just inclement weather.
Nova Southeastern University’s main campus is located in Fort Lauderdale, though there are many branches spread throughout Florida, as well as one in Puerto Rico. NSU is a huge, private university with eighteen schools and colleges and approximately 25,000 students, though only a couple thousand live on campus. Though NSU offers many degree programs, it is most known for its medical sciences, nursing school, college of pharmacy, and its computer and information sciences programs.
Nova Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Being that Baylor is heavily influenced by its Baptist affiliation, campus safety is notable for its accountability, advocacy, and stewardship emphasis. Further, the resources made available to students on safety are quite extensive, covering everything from laboratory and chemical safety to occupational procedures, animal safety plans, and consultation services. In addition to these resources, the Department of Environmental Health & Safety at Baylor includes training on each of these safety subjects, sometimes working in partnership with other university entities to provide an exhaustive training platform.
One of the country’s largest Christian universities, Baylor University is Baptist affiliated and has a student population of approximately 17,000. Baylor’s campus is located in Waco, Texas and spans 1,000 acres. It is the oldest university in Texas and one that is continuously ranked as one of the “Best Colleges” in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Twelve schools and colleges make up Baylor; campus life is vibrant and marked by high student involvement in Greek life and sports; and there is a strong relationship with the U.S. military.
Baylor University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Unique to the Grand Valley State University Police Department is its jurisdiction. Because Allendale, where GVSU is located, does not have its own city police department, it relies on the university’s, which provides full-service law enforcement. For that reason it is often ranked as one of the best campus police departments in the country. It is also one of the biggest with over a dozen professional law enforcement officers and seventy-five student employees.
Grand Valley State University may be big in size with over 25,000 students, but it maintains a liberal arts focus and is known for its education and interdisciplinary colleges. Situated in West Michigan, the university offers over 200 degree programs, nearly half of which are at the undergraduate level. Unique to GVSU is the 98 percent employment rate its students experience upon graduation as well as its huge study abroad program, offering more than 4,000 abroad opportunities to its students.
Grand Valley State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Southeastern Louisiana University has some minor burglaries and thefts on its crime record, but it is a safe campus for women and minorities students, as there are few to no reported hate crimes. SLU’s police is committed a community-driven approach to security, stating its mission is “to serve, educate, and protect the campus community through community collaboration, problem recognition, problem resolution and police action.” They list their core values as integrity, loyalty, courage, professionalism, and adaptability, and—no surprise here—diversity.
Based in Hammond, Louisiana—about an hour east of Baton Rouge and northwest of New Orleans—Southeastern Louisiana University is a public institution that awards degrees at the associates, bachelors, and masters levels. SLU is home to five colleges: the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; the College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and the College of Science and Technology. Campus life is an active one at SLU with dozens of traditions, events, and student led organizations to choose from.
Southeastern Louisiana University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Wichita State University may have some minor crime reports in the last few years, but those are mostly related to parties and alcohol. Otherwise, it is a very safe campus with few to no incidents of discrimination or violence against women. The university runs its own police department in an effort to maintain its high security standards. The police work closely with both local Wichita police and fire crews as well as with WSU students. Finally, WSU has some of the highest numbers of emergency call boxes on campus, with twenty on its main campus alone.
One of the largest universities in Kansas, Wichita State University is a public research institute comprised of a business, education, engineering, fine arts, health professional, and a liberal arts college. Wichita State is consistently ranked for its academic standards, its social mobility, its research and development, and its affordability, and it has received national attention for its contributions to aerospace engineering and research. In fact, WSU is home to the National Institute for Aviation Research, among many other research centers and institutes.
Wichita State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Troy University offers not just one self-defense training experience for women, but two: RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) and SAVE (Sexual Assault and Violence Education). Other safety and health services at Troy include general safety talks that happen throughout the year, safety escorts, auto assistance, and twenty-four-hour patrol services. Troy University also provides its students with all its crimes statistics and a security manual, reinforcing their commitment to community transparency and to being “wholly dedicated in the maintenance and promotion of individual rights and human dignity.”
Troy University is a large, public university located in Troy, Alabama. With nearly 20,000 undergraduates, campus life is a bustling one with a range of options for students seeking extra curriculars: Greek life, athletics, marching bands, multiple choirs, a strong theatre program, religious and political organizations, and military ROTC, just to name a few. In addition to its Troy campus, the university has branches in Montgomery, Dothan, Phenix City, and online.
Troy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
When it comes to discrimination, violence against women, fire safety, and assault, Tarleton just doesn’t see much of it. The university really only has violations of the partying variety on their record, which are still incredibly low compared to the national averages. Tarleton’s “Campaign for a Safer Tarleton” makes self defense classes available on a regular basis, provides resources promoting preventative safety, and offers a number of services for its students, from how to protect one’s self against burglary to preventing identity theft.
Like many of the universities and colleges on our list, Tarleton State University is located in Texas, Stephenville specifically. It is a member of the Texas A&M University System and is known for its agriculture, teacher education, nursing, music, medical tech, and data mining programs, though it offers a range of other degree programs as well. Markedly diverse, the students at Tarleton come from all states and dozens of countries and partake in the array of student life opportunities Tarleton presents, from trips to the planetarium to hitting up the climbing wall.
Tarleton State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The Keeping It Safe seminar at Liberty University teaches students self defense that helps protect against sexual assault, and it is one of the ways in which the school is seeking to make campus a safer place for everyone, but women especially. It shows in their annual VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) reports; there have been few violations in the last few years. Liberty also provides a campus alert system service to its students, as well as a Safe Ride program and an emergency information portal.
The biggest Christian university in the world, Liberty University is a conservative Baptist institution located in Lynchburg, Virginia. It has over 15,000 traditional students enrolled and over 100,000 students who are enrolled in their massive online learning platform. It is no surprise then that Liberty offers over 500 hundred total academic programs, two-thirds of which are on campus and the rest online. Liberty is also home to several libraries, museums, research institutes, and resource centers, as well as the Liberty Divinity School.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission.
As you can see below, the University of Louisville received a zero percent grade for its party scene, meaning compared to the top few schools on our list, it received one hundred percent (or more) alcohol infractions. However, compared to national averages, the University of Louisville’s party scene is relatively docile. They’ve also had zero reports of violence against women or minorities in the last three years, low nonviolent crime rates, and few instances of fire. That to say, the University of Louisville is one of the safest campuses in the country.
Part of the Kentucky state university system, the University if Louisville is a large public university known for its medical and health colleges. In addition to its emphasis on medicine, the university offers dozens of bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees through its twelve colleges and schools, and it is generally regarded for its academic reputation; U.S. News & Report has consistently ranked the University of Louisville as among the best national universities.
The University of Louisville is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges.
Safety at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) incorporates environment, education, and creativity. Their stated mission is to work together to “provide a safe environment for the UAA community through the confident application of education, rule enforcement, and creative thinking.” In addition to preventing violent crimes, thefts, acts of violence against women and minorities, the UAA police also provide resource specific to the school, most notably: moose safety. In the last few years, UAA has had few incidents of violent crimes and mostly have only alcohol and drug violations on their record.
Though the University of Alaska Anchorage has many of the marks of a typical large university, it is also unique in several ways. It offers an accelerated undergraduate and law degree that can be earned in five to six years, it is known for its strong aviation program, and its campus holds a large amount of research and training centers. UAA also has a strong academic reputation, making frequent rankings by Forbes and U.S. News & World Report, both ranking it as one of the best universities in the West.
The University of Alaska Anchorage is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
It just goes to show that an excellent security team can dramatically affect a university’s safety rating, because even though Wayne State University is located in a city with one of the highest crime rates—Detroit, Michigan—it is one of the safest large universities in the country. Perhaps it is because of its location that it has low incidents of violent crime (including hate crime and VAWA violations), in that its vigilance and safety standards are higher than other universities. Further, all of Wayne State’s security and police are fully licensed through the Michigan Commission on Law and Enforcement Standards.
Known for its law, business, and health sciences programs, Wayne State University is located in the Midtown historic district of Detroit. It has not only a huge student population, and is thus one of the biggest universities in the country, its campus is sprawling: there are over one hundred research and academic buildings as well as a vibrant technology park, half a dozen libraries, and satellite campuses. Many of Wayne State’s academic departments are ranked as among the best in their division, including the Law School, the College of Nursing, its medical schools, and the chemistry, physics, and astronomy departments.
Wayne State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Also located in a city known for its crime statistics—Baltimore, Maryland—Towson remains one of the safest large universities in the country. Accredited by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, the Towson University Police Department is continuously recognized as one of the best in the state, as well as the country. They work closely with the Office of Emergency Preparedness, the All-Hazards Preparedness Committee, and campus administration to create a safe learning environment. Like many of the other colleges and universities on our list, Towson gets good marks in its lack of violent and nonviolent crimes, but has some party-related (alcohol and drugs) violations. However, its averages are still way below average.
Towson University is part of the University System of Maryland, a system that is comprised of a dozen institutions of higher learning. Towson is a public university, as it is considered to be among the hundred best public universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and Kiplinger’s. Towson is divided into dozens of academic departments and eight colleges, and it is known for its active and vibrant social ethos. There are numerous fraternities and sororities, traditions, community outreach opportunities, student-run clubs and organizations, and more.
Towson University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
New York University is located in Manhattan, mostly situated near and surrounding Washington State Park. The Public Safety Department at NYU offers numerous services, including investigative services, victim assistance, safe rides, emergency alerts, safety equipment repair, legal assistance, and social service liaisons. The violence against women and minorities at NYU is markedly low, as are violent crimes. NYU does report some theft, robberies, and assaults in the last few years, but those reports come in way below the national average, making NYU one of the safest large universities in the country.
New York University is one of the best-ranked universities on our list, as its academic reputation extends both nationally and globally. It holds accolades from Forbes, Higher Times, U.S. News & World Report, and ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities). Only about a third of NYU applicants are admitted, making it a highly competitive university, and one that is notable for its Arts and Sciences departments in addition to its research efforts. Faculty and NYU alum have been Nobel Prize winners, Fields Medalists, Academy Award winners, Olympic athletes, Turing Award winners, and much more.
New York University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The innovative Neighborhood Walk program is one of Johns Hopkins many efforts to promote safety in and outside the university community as well as prevent crime. An hour long, the program takes students through the neighborhoods surrounding campus in an effort to enhance “security awareness, pointing out good and bad examples of residential security and discussing personal street safety.” As is clear by this program, Johns Hopkins takes a student-oriented approach to safety. They also offer an array of safety services and self defense classes.
Another one of the highest ranked universities on our list, Johns Hopkins is renowned in many ways: for its academic reputation, its research contributions (most notably for its health sciences, education, and business departments), its civil rights advocacy efforts, and for being a founding member of the American Association of Universities. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins also has campuses in Washington D.C., Italy, China, and Singapore.
Johns Hopkins University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The safety education programs and ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) training programs are the cornerstones to the University of Akron’s commitment to a safe and secure campus. As a supplement to the university’s police department, Akron also employs a student campus patrol and maintains residence hall security in all the dorms. Violent crimes at Akron, including acts against women and minorities, are negligible, while there are much more reported alcohol and drug infractions.
Part of the University System of Ohio, the University of Akron is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) focused research institution and is most known for its College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. Akron is also well-ranked and is often lauded as one of the best in the Midwest by The Princeton Review and others. Though many of Akron’s students are enrolled in a STEM related field, the university does offer nearly 200 undergraduate majors, from art history to criminal justice, marketing, business, and much more.
The University of Akron is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.
With a mission to create “a safer campus through community partnerships with a commitment to education, as a teaching police department and public safety agency,” Kennesaw State University brings together core components of a safe campus environment: community outreach and preventative education. Kennesaw State has low rates of crime against women and minorities, as well as low incidents of assaults and incidences of fire. Though there are a number of reported drug and alcohol violations each year, the numbers are way below typical “party school” averages.
Located in Kennesaw, Georgia (just 20 miles outside Atlanta), Kennesaw State University is part of the greater University System of Georgia. It is known for its business, education, nursing, criminal justice, and sports management programs, though it offers an array of degree options across its thirteen colleges and schools. Kennesaw State University also boasts the largest Department of Continuing Education in the country and the largest Educational Technology Training Center in the state.
Kennesaw State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Like Kennesaw State above, Grand Canyon University has few to no reports of violence against women, hate crimes, or fire incidences. Most of the blemishes on their annual safety reports come from petty theft and alcohol infractions. Perhaps also aiding the high safety score at GCU is its Christian focus. Additionally, GCU offers a wellness check program—a kind of accountability network for students—as well as an emergency text alert notification, a safety escort program, and a number of emergency blue light phones.
Originally, Grand Canyon University was a typical non-profit liberal arts college, but in the last decade was purchased and has grown into the large, for-profit research institution it is today. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, GCU also has an enormous distance learning program that enrolls over 60,000 students. Through its eight colleges and schools, undergraduates can get degrees in a number of fields, though the biggest programs at GCU are its education, business, science, engineering, healthcare, theology, and math programs.
Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
A number of our safest large colleges and universities are located in Texas, such UTSA: The University of Texas San Antonio. Though most of its solid safety grades come from minimal reports of crime and violence, it also helps that UTSA is home to three major security research centers, spanning cyber security to infrastructure assurance and education. UTSA also combines wellness, waste, occupational health, environmental safety, and administrative security in its approach to creating a holistically safe and healthful campus.
With nearly 30,000 students, the San Antonio campus in the University of Texas System is one of the largest universities on our list, as well as one of the biggest in Texas. Students have 130 undergraduate degree options, many of which are ranked among the best, and the university as a whole is often lauded as one of the best young (that is, under fifty years old) universities in the country. A lot of research is done at UTSA, especially in biology, microelectronics, computer technology, and the social sciences.
The University of Texas San Antonio is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Though located in New York City (Queens to be precise) the private, Catholic affiliated St. John’s University has one of the safest university campuses in the country. It is low in assault, theft, robbery, arson, discrimination, and violence against women. The university goes to great lengths to maintain their safety standard, offering services, support, preventative education, and a plethora of emergency and safety resources to their students. In addition to the more typical alert services offered by universities, St. John’s is also highly active on social media, in an effort to keep their students updated and informed.
St. John’s University is located in NYC with its main campus in Queens, and others on Staten Island and Manhattan. Unique to St. John’s is its emphasis on service and community, as the university encourages students to participate in campus ministry, outreach, or other social services. An emphasis on community also shows up in the classroom, as class sizes are intentionally small, creating an intimate and mentoring environment. SJU is well ranked academically, but is most known for its national recognition as a leader in providing jobs for students after graduation.
St. John’s University–New York is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Lauded as one of the safest universities in the Big 12, Kansas State University emphasizes a communal approach to safety with its Principles of Community initiative, a program that brings together faculty, students, and staff to share in the responsibilities for a safe campus. To this end, the university has also gone to lengths to thoroughly train all its staff, including resident advisors and other students employed by the school. Only a handful of arrests, non-violent crimes, and burglaries are on their annual safety record.
Located in Manhattan (Kansas, of course), Kansas State University is a public research institution. KSU’s nine different colleges and schools represent a diverse array of disciplines—agriculture, planning and design, human ecology, technology and aviation, veterinary medicine—in addition to its more typical programs: business administration, arts and sciences, education, engineering, and architecture. Also unique to Kansas State are its many cool museums, zoos, and galleries.
Kansas State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
With a police department of more than twenty state-certified officers, a nationally renowned sexual aggression peer advocates program, and a central alert system, it comes as no surprise that Central Michigan University, despite its size, is one of the safest college campuses in the country. CMU has nationally low rates of fire incidences, hate crimes, and violent crimes, and lower than average rates of alcohol and drug related issues.
Central Michigan University is located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan and is a major public, research university. They are one of the largest universities on our list with over 200 academic programs, sixty locations worldwide, and 7,000 online students. Not only is CMU one of the nation’s largest universities, it has a number of renowned programs, including its neuroscience program, which is considered the best in the country. Other notable departments include music, audiology, education, journalism, and entrepreneurship.
Central Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Drexel University is comprised of four campuses, one in Sacramento and three in Philadelphia. The Philly campuses are those most known for their high safety grades and low occurrences of crime, especially crime against women and minorities. With unique programs, such as Drexel Guardian App, Drexel has made huge strides in safety innovation. The Guardian App is available to all students and allows campus crisis teams to find a student in cases of emergency. Drexel also has a number of community outreach programs, ensuring safety not just on campus, but in the greater community.
Drexel University stands apart from the others on our list in that their curriculum includes a cooperative education program that allows students the option to gain up to eighteen months of paid work experience while receiving their degrees. It has led to a high rate of job placements post graduation. Drexel has many academic offerings, but is most known for its design, industry, and engineering programs, which partner with many research institutes also located on campus.
Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
At Texas Tech the Safety First Culture program works to ensure health and security across many areas, from a safe work environment to risks associated with research and lab work. In fact Texas Tech is one of few universities to have established an Institutional Laboratory Safety Committee. TTU also created a safety training matrix program that provides services, classes, and training on literally dozens of topics. These are made available to all students, staff, and faculty.
The flagship institution in the Texas Tech University System, TTU is a public research university located in Lubbock. It is classified as having some of the “highest research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation—with over 70 affiliated research facilities and institutes—and it is ranked by many national and global reviews for its academic performance. Students at TTU have access to over one hundred areas of study, as well as a vibrant social scene, a public art collection that is considered as among the best in the country, a number of long-held traditions.
Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Cal State University, Long Beach (CSULB) states their safety motto is to “strive to provide service with understanding and compassion” and have thus implement a security system that reflects such. They provide RAD (rape aggression defense) classes, a community service officer program that partners students with the CSULB police department, and a “University 100” class that introduces all freshman to student life, how to stay healthy, and how to prevent crime.
California State University, Long Beach is one of the largest schools in the huge Cal State University System and one of the largest on our list, with 36,000 enrolled students. In addition to its size, it is also known for its racial diversity, its affordability, and its commitment to sustainability. Offering nearly 150 undergraduate degrees through its eight schools and colleges, students can enroll in everything from the health and human sciences college to the college of continuing education and professional education.
California State University, Long Beach is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
From hurricane preparedness to Ziki prevention, the University of Delaware covers all its bases in providing a safe campus life experience to its students. At Delaware, safety measures include public safety, emergency and crisis preparation, and environmental health safety. The school has also been on the frontier of security innovation; they are home to the ICSS (the Intelligent Campus Safety System) technology, and they’ve recently announced a crime mapping system that is available to all students.
The University of Delaware is known for its substantive contributions to research, specifically in chemical and bimolecular engineering, chemistry, and biochemistry. Other popular programs at UD include business, hospitality, education, public policy and urban affairs, agriculture, and public administration. The university is consistently ranked as being one of the best in the nation, as is the College of Business and Economics. One of the university’s most noted features is that it was the first to incorporate a study abroad program, which is still in operation and now consists over eighty programs in over forty-five countries.
The University of Delaware is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
At the University of North Texas, the police department works closely with students, staff, and faculty to create a safe campus. They happily offer presentations on SHARP (Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention) self-defense, alcohol and drug awareness, ID theft protection, stalking and hazing awareness, how to handle disruptive individuals, and active shooting situations. Further, they seek to establish safety among the bicycle culture, providing resources and services, lending toward their solid safety score grades.
Located in Denton, Texas, the University of North Texas is a research university that dually specializes in the sciences and engineering fields as well as fine arts, performing arts, and the humanities. Regarding the latter, the English program at UNT is one of the largest among Texas colleges and universities, and generally, UNT is just a huge university; it is one of the largest schools on our list with an enrollment close to 36,000. UNT is committed to sustainability, boasting the first LEED certified sports stadium, the first ever Environmental Ethics graduate degree, and it was the first large public school to formally sign a legal commitment to climate care.
The University of North Texas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida Atlantic University has had some minor crimes in recent years, including arrests, burglaries, robberies, assaults, and a number of alcohol and drug violations (all of which are way below national averages), but it has very few reported crimes against women and minorities, making it a super safe campus. The Office of Public Safety offers a number of services, including rape aggression defense (RAD) classes, property registration, ride-a-long opportunities, and extra security for events.
Florida Atlantic University is located in Boca Raton, Florida (though it has half a dozen satellite campuses) and comprised of ten colleges and schools. In recent years the research activity has risen dramatically at FAU, and there has also been an increase in admission standards, of on-campus architectural growth, new departments and colleges, research funding, and partnership with notable centers and institutes. For that reason, FAU continues to rise in the rankings, gaining notice from Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and others.
Florida Atlantic University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The University of Mississippi has five safety units that collaborate to ensure the safety, beauty, and health of their campus: patrol, investigation, crime prevention, security, and support. They also provide resources, services, and information on how best to stay safe during game day. It shows in their annual safety reports; in the last few years the University of Mississippi has had some minor crime, but not many violent incidences, and few to zero problems with violence against minorities or women.
Located in literary Oxford, Mississippi, Ole Miss is the state’s flagship and largest university. It is a high research university and is classified as a sea- and space-grant institution with a number of unique programs, centers, and institutes. Making both national and global academic rankings, the University of Mississippi is also know for its affordability, consistently noted as one of the “Best Value Colleges” by Forbes.
The University of Mississippi is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
From providing RAD self-defense training to auto assistance, student-led patrol, and victim assistance, the safety crew at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) works closely with all components of campus life to instill and insure a safe and healthful space. Their core values—honesty and integrity, respect for diversity, engagement in the community, and commitment to nonviolence—have led to MTSU’s recognition as one of the safest large schools in the country.
MTSU is a large public university located in Murfreesboro. In addition to its traditional degree programs and academic offerings, they also offer a number of unique professional programs through the Department of Aerospace, the Concrete Industry Management program, the Department of Human Sciences, and the Department of Recording Industry. The latter has been recognized as the “preeminent music business program in the country,” making MTSU a inimitable university.
Middle State Tennessee State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Colorado reports few crimes each year, most of which are minor thefts, robberies, and arrests related to parties (alcohol and drug violations). UC-Boulder has reported zero hate crimes in the last few years and very few incidents against women. Their high safety records are due to an extensive safety initiative that includes emergency assistance, crisis assistance, campus resource centers, physical and psychological aid, and awareness and prevention campaigns.
The flagship university in the University of Colorado system, UC-Boulder is one of the largest schools on our list with over 30,000 students enrolled in one of the 150 academic programs. The university is made up of nine colleges and schools and makes huge contributions to research each year, and is especially known for its work through its Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. Likewise, UC-Boulder ranks high for its environmental law, quantum physics, geology, chemistry, and engineering.
The University of Colorado Boulder is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Every September, when students are returning to campus for classes, Temple University hosts a National Campus Safety Awareness Month, making known their commitment to student health and safety. Additionally, Temple’s administration has sought to remove every risk possible on their campus and has thus been conscientious about their landscaping, lighting, and accessibility. Finally, TUready, the university’s emergency response team, works closely with the rest of the campus to maintain the security and preparedness of the campus.
Temple University is one of the larger schools on our list with nearly 40,000 enrolled undergraduate and graduate students, over 400 academic degree programs, and multiple national and international campuses, though the one known for its safety and low crime rates is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Not only known for its size, Temple has proven commitments to sustainability, technology adaptation, and a vibrant student life pocked with organizations, athletics, and traditions.
Temple University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The second University of Colorado institution on our list (see number 41), UC Denver has similarly implemented a substantive safety program that includes its CARE (Campus assessment, response, and evaluation) team and its Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. UC Denver gets near perfect grades for its fire safety, anti-discrimination, and women’s safety; and the crime they do report is usually made up of minor infractions.
UC Denver generates more research grant funding each year than any other university in all of Colorado. Made up of the University proper and the University of Colorado Health Sciences, the school is renowned for its medical research and programs, many of which are ranked as among the best in the country, including the biomedical science department, the oncological biology program, and its human and medical genetics program. UC Denver is one of the smaller schools on our list with a student population under 18,000.
The University of Colorado Denver is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
It may be surprising that a university the size and scope of Texas A&M can be ranked as one of the safest large universities in the country, and yet, it is exactly that. And it is perhaps in some ways due to its size that the university is so safe. Its health and safety programs are equally as large and all-reaching. From services that help in domestic violence situations to preventative assistance to their study abroad program participants, Texas A&M truly distinguishes themselves in their thorough approach to safety.
The second largest school on our list (and the fourth largest in the country), Texas A&M University has over 65,000 students, most of whom are undergraduates. It is also ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Higher Times, and ARWU for its many highly reputable academic programs. As can be suspected, social life at Texas A&M is as sprawling as campus itself (over 5,000 acres). Many students get involved in fraternities and sororities (of which there are nearly forty) as well as student organizations (there are over 1,000).
Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
With self-defense classes, late night transportation services, 24/7 patrol, and a police department that staffs over fifty officers who are medically trained and have advanced law enforcement experience, safety at Northern Illinois University is a constant priority. Further, the school provides its students an array of advocacy services that cover everything from health to Greek life. Their safety reports in the last three years are pocked with only minor crime incidents.
Located in DeKalb, Illinois, Northern Illinois University is made up of seven colleges that proffer degrees in business, nursing, engineering, nursing, visual and performing arts, and education. Many of its programs are ranked for meeting high academic standards, as well as for affordability and value. NIU is also home to a number of art museums and research facilities, and is, in fact, a member of the Association of Public and Land-Grand Universities, an organization that provides massive research and funding opportunities to schools nationwide.
Northern Illinois University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The prestige of Harvard extends out of the classroom. Harvard is also one of the safest campuses in the country because of a safety program that includes campus-wide shuttle service, walking escorts, late night door-to-door service, emergency resources for the laboratory, a 24/7 crisis team, and more. Harvard also maintains its commitment to safety and health through its Harvard Safety Committee, a space designed to allow students to discuss any concerns.
Harvard University is obviously known for being an Ivy League institution that is ranked one of the best in the world, academically (U.S. News & World Report ranks it the second best school in the nation and ARWU ranks it first). Many famous leaders have passed through the halls of Harvard, including several presidents, Nobel Peace Prize winners, over 150 Nobel laureates, and more. Harvard is located in Cambridge and is the country’s oldest institution of higher learning.
Harvard University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
The safety resources at Iowa State University are nearly unmatched by any other school: a number of personal, medical, workplace, sexual safety, and counseling and crises services are offered to all students. Furthermore, training is available in ergonomics, weather, defense, and first aid. For these reasons, Iowa State University has reported only a few serious crimes each year, few of which are related to discrimination, fire, or violence. Like many of the schools on our list, the safety infractions reported by ISU relate to parties: alcohol and drug violations.
A land- and space-grant institution as well as the flagship university of Iowa, Iowa State University of Science and Technology is known for its huge contributions to research. In fact, the ISU Research Park encompasses over 200 acres of grounds and collaborates closely with the university to produce a ton of research related to business and technology industries. ISU isn’t only known for its emphasis on the sciences; it is home to a notable art museum, a farm house museum, and a major sculpture garden.
Iowa State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Auburn University has recently made news for the extensive safety—most notably, fire safety—training it provided to students. This beginning-of-the-year initiative reflects a broader commitment to campus health and safety, and is one of the reasons why Auburn University makes the list of being among the 50 safest large universities. They also make trainings available in the following categories: emergency preparedness, campus safety series, workplace violence prevention, active shooter response, CCERT, basic storm spotter, and much more.
Located in Auburn, Alabama, Auburn University is a public university and is recognized as a land-, sea-, and space-grant research institution (one of only a few in the country to be designated as all three). Made up of thirteen schools and colleges, Auburn is most known for its architecture, forestry, business, pharmacy, engineering, and veterinary science programs, which is not surprising since the university was founded as an engineering and agriculture school.
Auburn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Unique to Boston University’s efforts to curb crime and safety violations is their emphasis on hazing. Many other colleges and universities state a zero tolerance rule, just as Boston University does, but BU puts it as a front-and-center issue. They also have a Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center (SARP), where counselors are available 24/7 to provide assistance and to act as advocates on behalf of the students. These efforts are reflected in their safety grade, namely the VAWA reports: there have been only a few violations reported in the last few years.
Boston University is a private, research university with over 30,000 students, half of whom are undergraduates. It is considered one of the greenest schools in the country with its commitment to sustainability and conservation, and it is ranked as among the 100 best universities by Forbes, Washington Monthly, Times Higher Education, ARWU, and U.S. News & World Report. Campus is huge, with eighteen colleges and schools offering hundreds of degree programs.
Boston University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Arizona State University sneaks onto our list for safest large universities and colleges with its good grades in safety experienced by minorities and women, as well as its low incidences of fire. It did have a number of thefts, robberies, burglaries, arrests, and alcohol and drug infractions in the last few years, but those are still around, and even a bit below, the national average. Due to its large size, ASU has implemented a number of safety and wellness programs for its many students.
The largest university on our list with over 67,000 undergraduates alone, Arizona State University is a major public research university, and the largest public university in the country. ASU offers over 250 undergraduate majors in a huge array of areas, from design and education to business, sustainability, and nursing. It is also considered one of the top universities in the country for research, counted among Caltech, MIT, Purdue, and others. ASU is home to dozens of research institutes, museums, libraries, and art centers.
Arizona State University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
General safety grade: 0%
Anti-discrimination grade: 100%
Women’s safety grade: 98.6%
Party culture grade: 0%
Fire safety grade: 98.6%
Feature Image: Ziga Plahutar / E+ / Getty Images
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