The 12 best large colleges in America

UCLAFacebook/UCLAUCLA has an undergraduate enrollment of just under 30,000.

Often people tend to associate large universities with less individualized instruction and, overall, less prestige.

But our seventh annual ranking of the 50 best colleges in America proved otherwise.

Our list ranks colleges by median starting salary, average SAT score, and a survey that asked more than 1,000 Business Insider readers to choose the colleges that best prepare their students for success after graduation. Read our full methodology here.

With more than a quarter of the colleges on our list clocking in with an undergraduate enrollment of more than 10,000 students, they’re proof that, sometimes, bigger may be better. Read on to find out which large colleges made the cut.

Find out how your salary stacks up on PayScale.

12. Boston University

Facebook/BostonUniversity

Undergraduate enrollment:18,017

Average SAT score: 1945

Median starting salary: $US50,100

The Boston University alumni community is full of Nobel Prize and Pulitzer winners, Fulbright scholars, and poets laureate. The school received over $US350.3 million in grants and contract awards last year, powering it as one of the top research universities in the country.

11. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign/Facebook

Undergraduate enrollment: 32,959

Average SAT score: 2030

Median starting salary: $US55,000

Located about 140 miles south of Chicago, the University of Illinois is home to one of the largest public-university library collections in the world, with more than 24 million volumes across over 20 area-studies libraries. Students can take advantage of more than 400 study-abroad programs in more than 60 countries.

7. Northeastern University

Northeastern University/Facebook

Undergraduate enrollment: 17,400

Average SAT score: 2105

Median starting salary: $US54,100

Located in Boston, Northeastern has steadily climbed the ranks on US News' list: It was No. 42 in this year's ranking, up 56 spots from the publication's 2007 list.

Experiential learning opportunities ensure that students are exposed to real-world work, research, and study opportunities that will further them in their chosen fields far beyond life at Northeastern.

6. New York University

New York University/Facebook

Undergraduate enrollment: 24,985

Average SAT score: 2015

Median starting salary: $US50,000

The largest private university in the US, New York University is known for its renowned drama and theatre programs in the Tisch School of the Arts. The school is also recognised for the Stern School of Business, ranked the No. 5 undergraduate business program by US News.

'Networking, research, mentoring expertise, along with a location that allows for great internships as well as life experiences. New York City can't be beat for these, so NYU rank(s) very high,' a survey taker said.

5. University of Virginia

University of Virginia/Facebook

Undergraduate enrollment: 16,483

Average SAT score: 2025

Median starting salary: $US54,100

US News named UVA -- which is located in Charlottesville -- the No. 2 public school and the No. 6 undergraduate business program in the country. Research is also an important part of the school's curriculum, and it has 1.5 million square feet of research facilities, labs, and studio space, as well as $US26 million in research awards from corporate partners.

4. Georgia Institute of Technology

Undergraduate enrollment: 14,682

Average SAT score: 2080

Median starting salary: $US61,700

Considered the smartest public college in America, Georgia Tech is known for its top-rated engineering, industrial design, and architecture programs.

'Atlanta is the technological hub of the South, and Georgia Tech is a major reason for this, attracting among the best technology students from around the world,' one survey respondent said.

3. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

University of Michigan/Facebook


Undergraduate enrollment:
28,395

Average SAT score: 2065

Median starting salary: $US56,800

Michigan students received more Fulbright grants than anywhere else in the country but Harvard last year. The university counts Google cofounder Larry Page, actor James Earl Jones, and President Gerald Ford among its many high-profile alumni.

2. University of California at Berkeley

UC Berkeley/Facebook

Undergraduate enrollment: 27,126

Average SAT score: 2035

Median starting salary: $US59,500

The top strictly public school on our list, Berkeley is also ranked the No. 1 public university in the country by US News. Students can choose between 170 departments and programs across 12 colleges, and even at a big school 73% of undergraduate classes seat 30 students or fewer.

1. Cornell University

Cornell University/Facebook

Undergraduate enrollment: 14,453

Average SAT score: 2130

Median starting salary: $US58,200

Cornell strives to contribute to the world's knowledge in a way that 'prioritises public engagement to help improve the quality of life in our state, the nation, the world.' The Ithaca, New York-based school offers 80 fields of study and an active career-services office, which connects students with alumni for mentoring, networking, jobs, and internships.

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