The 15 Safest Colleges in America
- College student safety includes evaluating the security measures of the college campus and college town.
- While there has been a recorded decrease in on-campus crimes, it still happens. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 2% of crimes are unfounded.
- No college campus is 100% safe from crimes. However, some colleges and universities have better safety and security policies and initiatives that make them comparatively safer.
What is a safe college campus and why should a student care?
A safe college campus is one where a school actively works to increase campus safety by implementing measures like ride-share programs, emergency blue light phones around campus, security cameras, security guards, mass notifications systems, and even self-defense classes for students.
Increasing campus safety initiatives help students to focus on their studies and help parents to feel at ease about sending their children away to college. After all, the main reason students pursue college is to learn and prepare for a brighter future. But can they do that if they feel unsafe and uncomfortable on their college campus?
Bottom Line: As prospective students and their families consider a school’s academics, resources, and faculty, they should also prioritize campus safety. When assessing a university, it’s critical to take into account elements like violent crime statistics, safety resources, and the efficiency of campus police.
There are many aspects of college to navigate, safety being a top factor. For other tips on how to walking through college well, check out our guides and how-to’s article.
Back to Top
The Safest Colleges in America: Top 15 Campuses & Cities
In this list, we’ve considered each college’s safety programs, crime prevention strategies, and general security infrastructure while determining the rankings. From this thorough study, prospective students and their families will receive important insights into each institution’s commitment to putting the safety and security of its student population first.
Some of the factors considered in ranking the safety of each college include:
- Compliance with the Clery Act
- Security Officers on Campus
- Blue Light Emergency Phone Stations
- Escort Services
- Surveillance Systems/Technology
- Shuttles for Students
- Lighting Maintenance
- Low Crime Statistics
- Mental Health Offices
The Clery Act’s goal is to provide transparent information about campus crime policy and statistics to ensure students and employees have access to accurate information.
Security officers are on college campuses to ensure that safety measures are in place to protect the student population.
Typically set up at points around campus, these emergency phones are meant to immediately connect the caller with emergency services.
Many of the safest colleges provide escorts, vetted people who will escort students and staff from one place to another, to students.
Video and audio surveillance are in place to decrease the risk of crimes committed on college campuses, as well as track the goings-on of any suspicious activity.
Shuttles for students allow students to be driven to from one point of campus to another, instead of having to walk through potentially isolated parts of campus.
Colleges with well-lit paths and buildings have lower incidents of
The safest college campuses in America all have low crime statistics.
Many colleges have mental health offices that provide support to students as they process and recover from a traumatic event.
It is important to note that no college campus will be a 100% crime-free environment. While some universities excel in providing a secure atmosphere, no institution can guarantee complete immunity from all forms of crime. Nevertheless, there are many examples of campuses that have implemented effective safety measures to minimize risks and create a conducive learning environment.
West Lafayette, IN
Student Population: 39,170
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 1.60
Purdue University, a public land-grant research university, has six campuses. The specific campus that is considered the safest is located in West Lafayette. While West Lafayette has a higher than average property crime rate, the rate of violent crimes in the city is much lower than the national average.
This suggests that the city is effective in reducing more serious criminal activity, even in the face of certain instances of property crime, which helps to create a safer atmosphere overall.
In addition to its compliance with the Clery Act, one of the key features of Purdue West Lafayette’s campus is the Safe Walk Program. This program offers escort services to students, teachers, and staff.
The school seeks to promote community and address issues of personal safety with the use of other security measures like well-lit walkways, emergency call boxes, and surveillance systems in an effort to provide a safer environment for its students.
But it doesn’t stop there. Other safety and security services in place at Purdue University West Lafayette include:
- Bicycle Registration
- Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)
- Building Security
- Laptop Computer Registration
- Public Records Request
- Student Security Patrol
- Lighting on Campus
Arrests for alcohol and drug possession make up the majority of crime and safety-related incidents on campus, followed by arrests for serious crimes and crimes involving acts of violence against women.
Student Population: 11,849
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 1.93
The University of Idaho is a land-grant university recognized for its value, sustainability, research-driven innovation, and overall campus and neighborhood safety. Moscow’s property and violent crime rates are comparably lower than national averages. The University of Idaho complies with the Clery Act.
The university offers various programs and resources for students to promote safety and proactive self-protection. Faculty and staff receive training to identify at-risk students and respond appropriately.
The Campus Security Team works with Moscow Police, Fire, Paramedics, the Facilities Department, and Building Services to address security concerns. These forces come together to ensure that the highest level of security is available to the campus and are diligent in learning the latest techniques to help them better protect the student population.
The University of Idaho crime victims can schedule a visit at the Moscow Counseling and Mental Health Center. It shows a proactive approach in addressing the mental health and physical safety of people who may have gone through traumatic experiences.
Student Population: 23,318
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 2.09
Brigham Young University, a private university in Idaho, is renowned for many attributes, including academic prowess and a commitment to campus safety excellence. The university’s location is tagged as one of the low-crime states in America, making the campus an ideal learning and personal development environment.
The city’s violent crime index stands at 24, which is almost 11 times lower than the national average. This data suggests that violent crime is uncommon in this region.
With a strong emphasis on creating a secure atmosphere, Brigham Young University has implemented numerous campus safety services to enhance the well-being of its students even further.
BYU-Idaho adheres to the Clery Act, reporting campus crime statistics and security measures to students and employees and implementing procedures to prevent crime and protect campus visitors. The school has 17 criminal offenses, much lower than most campuses, in its most recent available data, 13 of which were reported to have been committed off campus.
To ensure student safety, BYU-Idaho has several services in place. These measures ensure that students are trained to become aware of their surroundings. Three of BYU’s initiatives for campus safety include the Annual Security And Fire Safety Report, Safety Classes, and Bicycle Regulations.
Other safety and security services in place at BYU-Idaho include:
- Safety Escorts
BYU Idaho’s Counseling Center is open for students who want to cope with traumatic events, whether they happen on campus or elsewhere.
Student Population: 8,116
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 2.09
Bridgewater State University, a public university, has one of the safest college campuses in the United States, mainly thanks to its small student population and location. Bridgewater has an average crime rate of 22.7 for violent crimes and 35.4 for property crimes. This makes the Bridgewater’s university community generally safer than other schools in the state.
Bridgewater State University complies with the Clery Act. The school maintains a safe campus environment with a dedicated police department, employing 23 full-time officers and support staff. The university encourages community awareness of potential crime and proactive crime prevention.
The university’s Counseling Services offers free services to students experiencing psychological difficulties. While Bridgewater State University has few incidents of crimes as compared to other universities, the university wants to provide students with any care and support they might need.
Student Population: 24,391
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 2.09
The University of Massachusetts is a prestigious public university known for its research initiatives in various fields. UMass Amherst is also popular for being one of the safest colleges in America. The city of Amherst, Massachusetts has significantly lower violent and property crime rates than other cities of the same size.
Clery Act-compliant UMass Amherst has put several security measures in place to guarantee the safety of its students on campus, including a Blue Light System. This initiative enables UMass Police officers to respond to students who feel threatened through a network of security alarms mounted on blue posts on buildings and campus grounds.
Furthermore, UMass provides a free walking companion service to assist students in avoiding nighttime strolling alone. Students can also travel more securely throughout campus thanks to the PVTA bus system, which offers direct service to nearby cities and other educational institutions.
Campus safety is also a top priority for the Office of Residential Life, which has automated alarm systems for closed doors and a monitoring system that alerts residents when main doors are opened.
There was a decrease in the number of criminal offenses on the UMass Amherst Campus from 51 in 2021 down to 43 in 2022. This was thanks in part to the security measures the campus put in the place and the security team’s ability to adjust and provide for needed improvements.
The Center for Counseling and Psychological Health offers students several programs to overcome mental and psychological problems. Students who fall victim to any on- or off-campus crimes can seek help from the center.
Student Population: 28,063
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 4.46
Logan, Utah, where Utah State University’s main campus is located, has a low violent crime rate of 10.9 and a 26.1 property crime rate. Logan’s reputation as a safe and secure community for both residents and students can be in part attributed to these low crime figures. People studying at USU Logan can feel more at ease because of the low rates of violent and property crimes.
The school complies with the Clery Act. To further enhance the safety and security of its students, Utah State has put several initiatives into place.
The USU Department of Public Safety is dedicated to promoting a safe campus environment. They offer a number of safety programs, including the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program for women, which teaches self-defense techniques.
The Armed Aggressor program educates the campus community on responding to armed threats. Other crime prevention programs educate the community on safety measures and how to stay vigilant.
Campus police play a crucial role in catching offenders. Additional services like fingerprinting and support for those who were victims of sexual assault are also provided. The department aims to create a culture of awareness and responsibility for campus safety.
The majority of crimes committed on campus resulted in arrests for possession.
Students who commit minor crimes or fall victim to a crime can seek psychological help from USU’s Counseling and Psychological Services. Moreover, USU has partnered with Thriving Campus to connect students seeking intensive or long-term treatment with off-campus mental health care providers in Cache Valley and across the state.
Student Population: 12,841
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 5.05
Oakland University complies with the Clery Act.
Oakland University is one of the safest large public research universities in the United States and the safest in Michigan. Compared to the national average, Rochester, Michigan has much lower rate of violent and property crimes. Rochester has a violent crime rate of 12.2, which is lower than the national average.
The university understands that while the overall environment of the campus and its college town is safe, crime can still occur. As a result, OU Police are diligent at working closely with college students to inform them on safety precautions to reduce crime on campus.
Oakland University’s officers patrol the campus buildings, sidewalks, roadways, and parking lots. Moreover, The Director of Student Life at Oakland ensures student safety by enforcing security policies and collaborating with housing and resident assistants to maintain a secure living environment for all their college students.
Other safety and security services in place at Oakland University include:
- Cyber Security
- Infrastructure Security
- SAFEwalk Escort
- Blue Light Emergency Phones
Oakland University experiences only .61 violent crimes per 10,000 people and 3.67 property crimes per 10,000 people, extremely low numbers compared to other universities.
The SEHS Counseling Center offers free counseling services for students who have anxiety and situational depression, which are often the result of students who experience any type of criminal activity.
San Marcos, CA
Student Population: 16,000
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 6.98
California State University is one of the most comprehensive public research universities in the United States. CSU San Marcos is known to be the safest campus in the CSU system. Its violent and property crime rates are lower than the national average, 15.8 and 22.9, respectively.
CSU San Marcos complies with the Clery Act to ensure that students and prospective students have accurate information on crimes and crime prevention on campus.
The University Police Department operates 24/7, deterring crime through Cougar Watch and Parking and Commuter Services. In emergencies, the Emergency Management and EOC provide aid to students.
The Women’s Center offers workshops on sexual assault and gender violence, and the Safety, Health & Sustainability office offers occupational and environmental safety expertise.
CSUSM is a popular party school. Over 11% of the crime and safety-related incidents on campus resulted in arrests for possession. This is much lower than the average for college campuses, and campus security officers are well-prepared to manage these events.
The university’s Student Health & Counseling Services (SHCS) offers short-term counseling to students dealing with mental health issues.
Highland Heights, KY
Student Population: 15,827
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 9.96
Northern Kentucky University’s crime rate is surprisingly low for a large public university. The state’s violent crime rate is 8.9, with a property crime rate of 16.6. Highland Heights, where the university is located, has a lower than average crime rate compared to other U.S. cities. Northern Kentucky University complies with the Clery Act.
The state has proactive and community-focused policing tactics for overall crime prevention for its residents. Campus safety initiatives at NKU extend beyond traditional security measures, incorporating programs that actively engage and educate the student community in safety concerns and prevention.
Campus safety and security services provided by NKU include 24-hour foot and vehicle patrols, late-night transportation and escort services, round-the-clock emergency phone service, well-lit walkways and pathways, and limited dormitory access. These services help to guarantee the security and health students, instructors, and staff when they are on campus. NKU also regularly hosts workshops and safety training to inform the community on crime prevention and disaster preparedness.
While still being lower than the average for most colleges, the majority of reported on-campus incidents and crimes at NKU were possession. This is why NKU is strict on being a dry campus. By addressing VAW and offering counseling services, NKU helps foster a campus community where students feel empowered, encouraged, and prepared to succeed academically.
Student Population: 8,623
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 15.56
Princeton University, the prestigious Ivy League university, has worked hard to sustain a safe college environment for its students in addition to earning a reputation for academic excellence. Princeton, New Jersey has a violent crime rate of 8.6 and a property crime rate of 16.1%.
The university complies with the Clery Act.
Princeton acknowledges that proactive and all-encompassing security measures on campus are necessary in the larger context of the town. Princeton’s Department of Public Safety has made several strides to promote safety on campus.
DPS officers serve as resources, oversee crime prevention initiatives, and disseminate general university information. The DPS is comprised of more than 110 highly qualified individuals who patrol the campus around the clock to safeguard the rights, security, and safety of university community members. DPS frequently informs university community groups about their safety and well-being on campus.
With zero reported crimes related to the Violence Against Women Act, Princeton has earned its reputation as one of the safest schools for women. The most common crime reported on campus is larceny, with 16 acts reported in October 2023.
Princeton students dealing with any mental health issues can seek help from the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
Student Population: 13,293
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 20.79
Tufts University is a major private research university in Medford, Massachusetts, one of the safest cities in America. Medford’s property crime rate is 22.2, and its violent crime rate is 12.9, both significantly lower than national averages. Residents of Medford enjoy an urban-suburban mixed lifestyle.
Tufts University complies with the Clery Act.
The Medford campus experienced backlash for the number of crimes committed in 2014. Since then, Tufts has strengthened their safety and security measures and significantly decreased on-campus crimes. Today, the university is known to be one of the safest universities in the US.
Tufts University Police Department is a fully-authorized campus police department in Massachusetts, trained at state-certified law enforcement academies. The 58-member department focuses on community policing and liaises with various community groups. Tufts University has established Tufts Threat Assessment and Management (TTAM) teams to ensure a safe environment for students, staff, and the community.
Moreover, through regular meetings and resource provision, TUPD offers various services to students, including self-defense classes, campus safety shuttles, and an emergency blue light system.
Tufts Medford offers short-time counseling and mental health services to students experiencing mental health issues that distract them from their studies. These services are free.
Student Population: 9,484
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 21.03
Boston College, a private research university, is in one of the safest college towns in America. Newton, Massachusetts has a 9.7 violent crime rate and a 15.2 property crime rate, which falls below respective national averages. As a result, despite the city’s very high cost of living, many prospective college students flock to Boston College to earn a degree.
The school complies with the Clery Act.
Boston College has several initiatives, guidelines, and protocols to guarantee the community’s and visitor’s safety and security. Since the campus is private property, it is forbidden to trespass or solicit. After regular business hours, buildings are secured and Boston College Police officers frequently check external doors.
According to Boston College, a variety of recorded crimes, including drug offenses, aggravated assaults, robberies, and burglaries, occurred at the university in 2021. Burglaries decreased by 50% between 2020 and 2021. It raised slightly in 2022, but has gone back down in 2023.
Victims of any crime and offenders dealing with minor charges are often referred to seek help from the University Counseling Services.
Student Population: 30,434
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 23.55
Virginia Tech is one of the largest public colleges and universities in the United States and also one of the safest campuses. With an overall violent crime rate of 10 per 1,000 residents, Blacksburg, Virginia has been listed as one of the safest small towns. Furthermore, Blacksburg’s property crime rate of 18.9, demonstrating that residents feel secure in their homes and college dorms.
Virginia Tech, which complies with the Clery Act, prioritizes the security and welfare of its college community through thorough safety procedures, continual training, and committed employees. The university’s Emergency Management Department collaborates with other security and academic departments to enhance personal readiness and resilience.
Community members are encouraged to set up their non-emergency number for the Virginia Tech Police Department, download the Hokie Ready mobile app, sign up for VT Alerts, and contact 911. The campus prides itself on the measures it takes for its students.
Residents living on campus can contact RLRONation via Facebook or Instagram or through the residence life resource officers at New Residence Hall East.
Over 80% of the reported incidents at Virginia Tech were minor crimes that resulted in disciplinary actions. Only about 4% were related to the Violence Against Women Act.
The university’s Mental Health and Well-Being Center offers students free guidance to cope with mental health issues, whether they were related to crime experiences or not.
Student Population: 17,511
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 37.05
The University of Rhode Island, a public land-grant research university, is in one of Rhode Island’s safest cities. Kingston’s violent crime rate is only 5.2.
Prospective college students who want to reside on campus can assure themselves of a secure living environment when choosing the school. Nevertheless, no campus’s crime rate will be zero. As a result, it remains crucial for students to maintain a proactive approach to campus safety.
The University of Rhode Island prioritizes campus safety by offering a 24-hour hotline, an anonymous tip line, trained security personnel, late-night transportation services, and electronically operated dormitory entrances.
These measures ensure students’ safety, promote responsible transportation choices, and create a secure environment for academic pursuits. Prospective students can trust URI’s commitment to maintaining a safe learning environment.
URI complies with the Clery Act.
Emergency response teams that are in place at the University of Rhode Island include:
- Campus Police
- Fire Safety
- URI EMS
- Title IX
URI’s recent Clery report indicated that the most common offenses on campus involved alcohol possessions, which reached 594 incidents. Other than that, the university did not report any major and severe crime on campus.
URI’s Mental Health and Wellness Center offers free counseling services for students with mental and psychological health issues.
Student Population: 16,813
Crime Rate Per 1000 Students: 39.22
Durham, New Hampshire has one of the lowest violent and property crime rates in the United States. The city’s violent crime rate is 9.4, while its property crime rate is 13.5.
The University of New Hampshire complies with the Clery Act.
With this low crime rate and city attractions and activities, the campus and residence halls offer students a safe and comfortable learning environment.
In addition to prioritizing academic excellence, UNH places a high premium on students’ safety to ensure a fun and successful college journey. Among its efforts to keep the college campus safe and secure is its close partnership with the Durham police department. To make faculty and students feel at ease in their interactions with one another, UNH police make a point of being highly visible on campus.
The University of New Hampshire campus safety resources and services include:
- Rave Guardian And uSafeUS Apps
- Blue Light Emergency Telephones
- Walking Escorts
- Campus Alerts
In 2022, more than half of UNH’s reported on-campus incidents and offenses resulted in arrests for possession, and about 6% are related to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). In 2023, acts related to VAWA became close to 0%.
UNH’s Psychological and Counseling Services (PACS) is for students seeking help coping with mental health issues affecting their studies.
Back to Top
Are college campuses in the United States safe?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, crime on college campuses is on the decline. Campus safety is measured by multiple factors including the number of criminal offenses, hate crimes, violence against women offenses, and arrests and referrals for disciplinary action.
The Clery Act is a law that holds colleges and universities responsible for actively fostering campus safety. So how can schools increase the level of safety on campus?
Colleges and universities can increase safety (and decrease crime) by implementing security features like blue light phones, well-lit walkways, surveillance cameras, and mass notification systems. Students and staff members can also become better prepared for real-world scenarios by participating in self-defense classes, emergency preparedness exercises, and violence education programs offered through the school.
While training programs on personal safety, responsible alcohol consumption, and bystander intervention provide students with the ability to make educated decisions, involving the surrounding community in the college’s safety endeavors fosters a sense of teamwork with the school.
According to the Clery Act, extending campus safety programs beyond campus boundaries, holding neighborhood seminars, and participating in cooperative projects with nearby companies and communities is something that each college and university should also plan for. Collaborative efforts entail patrolling common areas by municipal and school law enforcement.
Crimes on American College Campuses
The FBI defines violent crime as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, while they define property crime as larceny-theft, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson, which involve no force against victims. The most common crimes that occur on college campuses include sexual assault, robbery, drug offenses, and alcohol-related offenses.
Recent data shows that there were 31,137 criminal acts reported on more than 10,000 college campuses, and 783 of the crimes that were recorded were unfounded. Moreover, data has shown that there had been 12,966 acts that fall under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) committed during this time.
According to a survey completed by Inside Higher Ed and Kaplan, not all students feel equally safe on college campuses. In fact, female students, students of color, and LGBTQIA+ students “tend to feel less safe, and the latter two groups have had less positive interactions with campus safety officials compared to the full sample of 2,004 students.”
This fact means that college campuses need to work hard to address the safety concerns of all students, and not just majority groups on campus.
While research has shown that there has been a continuous decrease in on-campus crimes, they do still occur. The importance of comprehensive safety plans and resources cannot be overstated. When managed correctly, a safe campus helps all students feel more secure and helps to guarantee a safe learning environment.
Certain colleges and universities have a reputation for being safe, especially those that are private or located in college towns. These schools prioritize their students’ safety and make the necessary investments to keep a secure atmosphere.
Likewise, liberal arts colleges—which are frequently distinguished by more intimate, smaller communities—often place a higher priority on developing safe environments for their students.
Take a look at the 50 best liberal arts colleges and universities in the US.
If safety and happiness on your campus are important to you, check out our look at the colleges with the happiest freshmen.
What can students do to help ensure their own safety?
Regardless of the safety rating of a specific college or university, students should follow a few safety precautions to guarantee personal safety. These consist of carrying pepper spray, keeping their phone close at hand, remaining vigilant, recognizing emergency booths, purchasing home security systems, and refraining from walking alone, especially at night. The safest campuses offer escort services, which accompany students to stroll on campus during nighttime.Back to Top
Student Submitted Questions on the Safest Colleges in America
Jack asks, “Which college has the lowest crime rate?”
Dr. James Barham’s answer: Brigham Young University-Idaho stands out as a beacon of safety among higher education institutions, boasting one of the lowest crime rates per 1,000 students. With a student population of 23,318, the crime rate at BYU-Idaho is impressively low at 2.09.
Ashley asks, “Which Ivy League school is the safest?”
Dr. Jed Macosko’s answer: Safety is a relative concept that depends on a number of variables. Ivy League colleges prioritize campus safety and have strong security measures in place.
Nevertheless, they’re just like other prestigious universities. They do not have a 100% crime-free rate. Based on the data gathered, the safest Ivy League school is Princeton University.
Sara asks, “How safe is the USA for international students?”
Dr. James Barham’s answer: The United States is home to several world-class facilities and educational institutions, making it a popular location for talented international students. In general, international students are safe in the US. International students can find more safety tips in this article.
However, the university’s location, the surrounding area, and individual circumstances are some variables that can affect an international student’s safety in American colleges. The number of reported hate crimes at US colleges is 1,626, which is low in the context of over 50 million students enrolled. Millions of overseas students study in the US without serious safety concerns because it is usually considered a safe country.
Michael asks, “What is the most common crime committed on college campuses?”
Dr. Jed Macosko’s answer: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the most prevalent crime on campus, accounting for 44 percent of reported on-campus crimes, is forcible sex offenses, with a total of 9,400 incidents.