50 Safest Large Colleges And Universities

A ranking of thesafest large universities in the U.S. ; #5, University of Massachusetts Boston, MA ; #6, Columbia College, New York City, NY ; #7

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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.

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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:

Our data comes the U.S. Department of Education, as well as from the university and colleges’ websites, U.S. News & World Report, and The National Center for Education Statistics.

  1. Thomas Edison State University

    Trenton, NJ

    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.

    General safety grade: 100%

    Anti-discrimination grade: 100%

    Women’s safety grade: 100%

    Party culture grade: 100%

    Fire safety grade: 100%

  2. CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College

    New York, NY

    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.

    General safety grade: 98.3%

    Anti-discrimination grade: 100%

    Women’s safety grade: 100%

    Party culture grade: 98.3%

    Fire safety grade: 100%

  3. University of Houston–Downtown

    Houston, TX

    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.

    General safety grade: 97.3%

    Anti-discrimination grade: 100%

    Women’s safety grade: 98.6%

    Party culture grade: 99.6%

    Fire safety grade: 100%

  4. University of Massachusetts Boston

    Boston, MA

    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.

    General safety grade: 97%

    Anti-discrimination grade: 100%

    Women’s safety grade: 99.3%

    Party culture grade: 97%

    Fire safety grade: 100%

  5. Columbia College

    Columbia, MO

    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.

    General safety grade: 99%

    Anti-discrimination grade: 100%

    Women’s safety grade: 99.3%

    Party culture grade: 92.6%

    Fire safety grade: 100%

  6. Brigham Young University

    Laie, HI

    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.

    General safety grade: 93.6%

    Anti-discrimination grade: 100%

    Women’s safety grade: 96.3%

    Party culture grade: 99%

    Fire safety grade: 98.3%

  7. Oakland University

    Rochester Hills, MI

    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.

    General safety grade: 82%

    Anti-discrimination grade: 99.3%

    Women’s safety grade: 95.6%

    Party culture grade: 99.3%

    Fire safety grade: 100%

  8. Sam Houston State University

    Huntsville, TX

    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.

    General safety grade: 89%

    Anti-discrimination grade: 100%

    Women’s safety grade: 94%

    Party culture grade: 89.6%

    Fire safety grade: 99%

  9. Texas Woman’s University

    Denton, TX

    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.

    General safety grade: 90.6%

    Anti-discrimination grade: 100%

    Women’s safety grade: 94.6%

    Party culture grade: 87.6%

    Fire safety grade: 98%

  10. Weber State University

    Ogden, UT

    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.

    General safety grade: 89.6%

    Anti-discrimination grade: 100%

    Women’s safety grade: 97.5%

    Party culture grade: 75.6%

    Fire safety grade: 100%

Feature Image: Ziga Plahutar / E+ / Getty Images

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