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The Safest Colleges Campuses in America in 2020

When soon-to-be high school grads decide which college to attend, location, sports, and Greek life are huge factors. But for college students planning for that first year away from home, safety should play an equally important role.

Incoming freshmen can feel better entering college when they know their campus has crime prevention measures and crisis management systems in place to ensure lower crime rates.

With that, we combed through the safest colleges in the country—as we do each year—to find the top twenty-five safest college campuses, plus the safest colleges in each state. 

Table of Contents

How We Got Our Rankings  

Since 2016, we’ve continually updated and refined our methodology to find the safest college campuses in America. This year, we looked at data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security and the FBI’s 2018 Uniform Crime Report

From there, we narrowed our study down to only public, private, and non-profit institutions with a minimum of 5,000 students offering two-or four-year degrees. 

We evaluated the safety of a college campus based on a combination of these factors: 

  • Violent crimes per 10,000 people 
  • Property crimes per 10,000 people
  • Hate crimes per 10,000 people 
  • Number of Violent Against Women Act (VAWA) offenses per 10,000 people 

After analyzing those factors, we found each school’s overall crime score. 

Some colleges didn’t submit information to the FBI, which is why Hawaii, Iowa, Mississippi are missing a safest college on the list below. 


Top 25 Safest College Campuses in America 


1. Brigham Young University-Idaho (Rexburg, ID

Year after year, BYU-I is one of the safest colleges in the country. Case in point: in 2018, it was crowned the number one safest campus.

Rexburg boasts 0.17 violent crimes per 10,000 people— the lowest of any city on our list. Even beyond the campus, Rexburg is the safest city in Idaho

2. Eastern Illinois University (Charleston, IL) 

With a student body of 7,030 people, Eastern Illinois has one of the lowest student enrollment counts on the list—but it’s still highly safe. For every 10,000 people, only 1.39 violent crimes occur. Plus, it boasts a low property crime of 2.92 per 10,000 people. 

The college also has an internet crime complaint center, where students can report online harassment and threatening emails (something most universities don’t offer or advertise). 

3. Oakland University (Rochester, MI) 

Like BYU-I, Oakland University made the 2018 list of Safest College Campuses in America—they ranked third for good reason.

The school experiences only 0.61 violent crimes per 10,000 people and 3.67 property crimes per 10,000 people. Its overall crime score is 6.42, which is one of the lowest on the list. 

Beyond all that, Oakland University offers something we haven’t seen much elsewhere: a direct link to the state’s sex offender registry on its website—a smart move for an organization that fosters on-campus living and social situations that involve strangers mingling.

4. Bridgewater State University (Bridgwater, MA) 

Between 2.07 violent crimes per 10,000 people and 4.21 property crimes per 10,000 people, Bridgewater State boasts crime rates each under 5.0. 

Beyond all that, the campus has implemented in the following safety measures:

  • Invested $100,000 in security systems campus-wide
  • Put up more than fifty blue light safety stations on campus
  • Developed the Rave Guardian app, which monitors users’ locations and makes it faster to call for help. 

5. Princeton University (Princeton, NJ) 

Princeton is one of two Ivy League colleges on our list (the other being Dartmouth). As much as it values its academic rigor, it also clearly values the safety of its students. 

Princeton’s overall crime score of 7.63 is lower than Bridgewater’s, but its violent crime rate per 10,000 people is shockingly low: 0.35.

In addition to its designated campus safety office, Princeton provides multiple ways to report crimes: tip line, anonymous tip line, confidential email, and sexual abuse report.

6. University of New Hampshire-Main Campus (Durham, NH)

With an overall crime score of 7.67, the University of New Hampshire covers all its bases safety-wise. It has a violent crime rate of only 0.65 per 10,000 people, its property crime rate totals only 3.15 per 10,000 people, and its hate crimes and VAWA rate rest below 4.0 (3.87). 

But we’re not finished yet: it also checks off all the right boxes when it comes to crime prevention and crisis management. 

The school provides multiple ways to alert students in the event of an emergency, and it offers blue light safety stations, escorts, and a robust section of its website dedicated solely to victim services.

7. University of Massachusetts-Amherst (Amherst, MA) 

Like many colleges on our list, UMass-Amherst takes strides to implement emergency call boxes across its campus. It’s also made safe ride programs available to students and faculty alike. 

And its safety efforts have paid off. UMass-Amherst has a violent crime rate of 2.98 per 10,000 people and a property crime rate of 4.35 per 10,000 people. 

Even better, its hate crimes and VAMA rate total a mere 0.67 — one of the lowest on the list. 

8. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, VA)

Virginia Tech’s overall crime score of 8.25 made it one of the eleven colleges on our list to achieve a total crime index below 10.00. 

Virginia Tech is one of the largest schools on our list, at a student body of 34,440. Its hate crime and VAWA rate is one of the lowest at 0.16 per 10,000.

After the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, the school overhauled its campus safety program, adding electronic signs and emergency messaging systems for text, email, and Twitter. Now, the campus is one of the safest in the nation.

Plus, a student survivor of the shooting created the app, LiveSafe, which many of the colleges on our list have implemented. It allows users to submit tips and alert authorities of nearby crimes. 

9. Southern Illinois University (Edwardsville, IL) 

Although SIU may sit at number nine, its campus has top three-worthy crime stats. The campus experiences a violent crime rate of 0.52 times out of every 10,000 students. Its hate crime and VAWA rate is as low as 1.00 per 10,000. 

The only reason it didn’t pull higher is because of its property crime rate of 7.38 per 10,000 people (which is still pretty low, comparatively speaking!). 

In addition to impressive safety stats, the school also offers a food pantry. Just as safety measures help keep students safe so they can focus on their studies, the Cougar Cupboard food pantry seeks to provide food for students in need, so they can focus on acing their classes.

10. West Texas A&M University (Canyon, TX) 

West Texas A&M has one of the lowest hate crime and VAWA rates on our list: 0.32 per 10,000 people. What’s more, its violent crime rate of 0.90 per 10,000 people doesn’t even surpass 1.0. 

Its property crime rate is 7.69 per 10,000 people, and it offers on-campus lock shops for students to stow their valuables. 

11. University of Maine (Orono, ME) 

The University of Maine, one of the nation’s top 50 green colleges, also deserves praise for its above-average safety. 

With property crimes as low as 1.22 per 10,000 people and an overall crime score of 9.96, The University of Maine is the last college on our list to earn an overall crime score under 10.00. Plus, the school has a comfortably low hate crime and VAMA rate of 1.22 per 10,000.  

12. Concordia University-Wisconsin (Mequon, WI) 

Concordia University-Wisconsin has the third-lowest violent crimes per 10,000 people on our list (0.21). And with an even lower hate crime and VAMA rate of 0.08 per 10,000, CUW is a comparatively safe place for minorities and women too.  

We like that Concordia provides an anonymous tip line for its student body, and we also appreciate that it offers parking lot escorts for students who feel uncomfortable walking to their cars at night.  

13. University of the Cumberlands (Williamsburg, KY) 

While many campuses on our list have impressively low hate crimes and VAWA rates, the University of the Cumberlands takes the cake for a hate crime and VAWA rate of zero per 10,000 people. 

The school offers several sexual assault, alcohol, and dating seminars for its students, and it provides an easy-to-access call sheet for any number a student may need in the event of an emergency. 

Its property crime rate of 8.49 per 10,000 people is almost worth talking about—it’s still lower than twelve other schools on our list. 

14. Purdue University-Main Campus (West Lafayette, IN) 

Sitting pretty in spot number fourteen on our list, Purdue University’s main campus has an extremely low violent crime rate of 0.66 per 10,000 people. 

Plus, the campus takes major strides to make its campus safer. For example, it set up 300 blue light phones across campus and put up nearly 200 digital signs to display emergency alerts to students in case of an emergency. 

15. Tufts University (Medford, MA) 

Tufts is one of the few private non-profit universities that made the safest twenty-five college campuses list. It also has one the lowest hate crime and VAWA rates of all twenty-five schools (0.05 per 10.000 people).

Also impressive? Tufts supports the Mass Safe Communities Act, which protects immigrants. It’s no wonder the campus is proactive in protecting all of its students.

16. Millersville University of Pennsylvania (Millersville, PA) 

Millersville took after Virginia Tech and implemented the LiveSafe app. With this app, students can request to have their location tracked in an emergency. 

With an overall crime score of 10.86, it’s clear the school’s safety measures paid off. Plus, Millersville’s hate and VAWA rate of 0.72 is still lower than 1.00. 

17. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (Slippery Rock, PA) 

“Jumping on the bandwagon” isn’t always a good thing, but when it comes to safety precautions and emergency-alert systems, every school should follow their lead. 

Slippery Rock University offers a slew of blue safety light stations across its campus—like many in our list—but it doesn’t seem like they get much use. With an overall violent crime rate of only 0.57 per 10,000 people, Slippery Rock has one of the lowest violent crime rates of any school in our top twenty-five.

18. Northern Michigan University (Marquette, MI) 

With a violent crime rate of 1.12 per 10,000 and hate crimes and VAWA rate of only 0.88 per 10,000, Northern Michigan easily earns its spot in the nation’s top twenty-five safest college campuses. 

Aside from its noteworthy overall crime score of 11.93, Northern Michigan also deserves a call out for the rape prevention classes it offers women. 

19. California State University-San Marcos (San Marcos, CA) 

With a population as high as San Marco’s (98,088), Cal State is situated in the most highly-populated city on our list. 

The school has a violent crime rate of 2.06 per 10,000 people, but what we love most is its nearly nonexistent hate crimes and VAWA rate of 0.01 per 10,000 people. 

Even more impressive? In addition to a dedicated Women’s Center on campus, Cal State offers workshops on everything from gender violence and sexual assault to relationship assult and warning signs of dangerous situations. 

20. Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH) 

Ivy League status isn’t the only thing Dartmouth can claim to fame. Dartmouth has a property crime rate of 8.33 per 10,000 people (which is still lower than most campuses in the country), and its violent crime rate bottoms out at 0.69 per 10,000. 

The school also outlines tons of safety tips for its students on its website, plus the campus police department offers self-defense courses for those interested. 

21. University of California-Irvine (Irvine, CA) 

With a student headcount of 35,242, UC-Irvine has the third-largest student body on our list. The school keeps its violent crime rate low at 0.56 per 10,000 people. The hate crime and VAWA rate is very low as well at 0.23 per 10,000. 

The campus is located Irvine, CA, which has a violent crime rate 85% lower than the country’s crime rate

22. Bowling Green State University-Main Campus (Bowling Green, OH) 

With a student body of 17,357 and a town population of 32,017, Bowling Green State University is half of the population of Bowling Green, Ohio—so it’s a good thing the campus prides itself on low crime rates. 

Like many colleges, university police patrol the campus 24-hours a day. But unlike other campuses in the country, its violent crime rate is 0.75 per 10,000 people, and its hate crime and VAWA rate is only 0.87 per 10,000 people.

23. Northern Kentucky University (Highland Heights, KY) 

Many colleges offer a less-than-impressive safety section on their websites, but Northern Kentucky University gives students a breakdown of every emergency action plan, so they’ll  know what to do in the event of a tornado, active shooter, and even a psychological crisis.  

Even better, the school has a brag-worthy violent crime rate of 0.75 per 10,000 people.

24. Eastern Arizona College (Thatcher, AZ) 

Believe it or not, Eastern Arizona College has a violent crime rate of zero. You heard that right: zero. That’s the lowest on our list — even lower than the list’s overall safest university, BYU-I. 

Also at zero? Its hate crimes and VAWA rate. The only reason we think it didn’t pull higher is because it has one of the highest property crime rates on our list: 13.87 per 10,000 people. 

Even still, no single incident of violent, hate, or VAWA crimes deserves all the gold stars. 

25. University of Wyoming (Laramie, WY) 

Although the University of Wyoming may be the last school on our list, it’s still one of the safest campuses in the nation (and it has plenty of campus safety measures to boot).

The college’s violent crime rate of 0.98 and hate crime and VAWA rate of 0.80 don’t even reach 1.0 per 10,000 people. Plus, UW offers a mental health and suicide crisis hotline after-hours and on weekends for students that need to speak with a counselor. 

Campus danger usually manifests in the form of violent crimes and property thefts, so we appreciate UW’s efforts to think outside of the box when it comes to student safety.  

The Safest College in Each State 


StateSafest College
IdahoBrigham Young University-Idaho
IllinoisEastern Illinois University
MichiganOakland University
MassachusettsBridgewater State University
New JerseyPrinceton University
New HampshireUniversity of New Hampshire-Main Campus
VirginiaVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
TexasWest Texas A & M University
MaineUniversity of Maine
WisconsinConcordia University-Wisconsin
KentuckyUniversity of the Cumberlands
IndianaPurdue University-Main Campus
PennsylvaniaMillersville University of Pennsylvania
CaliforniaCalifornia State University-San Marcos
OhioBowling Green State University-Main Campus
ArizonaEastern Arizona College
WyomingUniversity of Wyoming
WashingtonWashington State University
GeorgiaKennesaw State University
UtahSnow College
North CarolinaAppalachian State University
MarylandBowie State University
ConnecticutFairfield University
MissouriNorthwest Missouri State University
TennesseeBethel University
South DakotaSouth Dakota State University
KansasEmporia State University
NebraskaNortheast Community College
West VirginiaWest Virgina University
MinnesotaSouthwest Minnesota State University
New YorkFashion Institute of Technology
FloridaHillsborough Community College
MontanaMontana State University
DelawareUniversity of Delaware
OklahomaOklahoma State University
VermontUniversity of Vermont
South CarolinaCollege of Charleston
North DakotaUniversity of North Dakota
NevadaUniversity of Reno-Nevada
LouisianaLouisiana Tech University
New MexicoEastern New Mexico University
OregonOregon State University
Rhode IslandRhode Island College
AlabamaJacksonville State University
AlaskaUniversity of Alaska Fairbanks
ArkansasUniversity of Arkansas-Fort Smith
ColoradoColorado State University-Pueblo

View the 2019 report here. 

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