Big Ten Conference

Big Sports and Big Research Define the Universities in the Big Ten

The members of Big Ten Conference can brag about more than athletics. These schools are all members of the Association of American Universities, schools distinguished by their excellence in research and teaching. Each also has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Several of these universities make the lists of top public universities, top business schools, and top engineering schools.

The Big Ten is part of the Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA's Division I. Learn more quick facts about the Big Ten schools, and see what it takes to get in by looking at the Big Ten SAT comparison table and ACT comparison table.

Illinois (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

University of Illinois Research Park
University of Illinois Research Park/Wikimedia Commons

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign consistently ranks among the top public universities in the country. Its science and engineering programs are especially strong, and its library is outdone only by the Ivy League.

Indiana University at Bloomington

Front and western side of Maxwell Hall on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
Nyttend/Wikimedia Commons

The flagship campus of Indiana's state university system, Indiana University at Bloomington has an impressive 2,000-acre park-like campus whose buildings are often constructed from local limestone.

Iowa (University of Iowa at Iowa City)

University of Iowa at Iowa City
Vkulikov/Wikimedia Commons

Located in Iowa City, the University of Iowa, like many schools on this list, has some top-notch academic programs to complement its impressive athletic teams. Nursing, creative writing, and art are all winners, to name just a few.

Maryland (University of Maryland at College Park)

An aerial view of the University of Maryland campus on October 4, 2014 in College Park, Maryland.
G Fiume/Getty Images

Another highly-ranked public university, the University of Maryland at College Park is the flagship campus of Maryland's state university system. College Park is an easy Metro ride into Washington, D.C., and the university has benefited from numerous research partnerships with the federal government.

Michigan (University of Michigan at Ann Arbor)

Hill Auditorium and Burton Tower at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Academically, the University of Michigan is one of the strongest public universities in the country. On national rankings, Michigan is usually right up there with Berkeley, Virginia, and UCLA. For pre-professionals, Michigan scores big in both business and engineering. The school's home in Ann Arbor places it in one of the country's best college towns.

Michigan State University at East Lansing

A detailed view of the Spartan statue on the campus of Michigan State University.
Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

Michigan State has a massive 5,200-acre campus in East Lansing, Michigan. With over 50,000 students and close to 700 buildings, Michigan State is a small city unto itself. It may not be a surprise, then, that they have the largest study abroad program in the country.

Minnesota (University of Minnesota at Minneapolis and Saint Paul)

Frank Gehry's Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota campus.
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

With over 51,000 students, the University of Minnesota is the fourth largest university in the country. Strong academic programs include economics, the sciences, and engineering, and its location in the Twin Cities provides plenty of internship opportunities.

Nebraska (University of Nebraska at Lincoln)

General view of the Engineering Fountain.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln consistently ranks among the top 50 public universities in the country. The university features excellent research facilities and strengths in fields ranging from business to English. The city of Lincoln can boast of a high quality of living and an extensive trail and park system.

Northwestern University

Northwestern University
Madcoverboy/Wikimedia Commons

Northwestern University has the distinction of being the only private university in the Big Ten Conference, so you can expect a significantly higher price tag. Nevertheless, students who qualify for financial aid can expect substantial grant aid, and on the academic front, the university has impressive strengths across disciplines, from English to Engineering. The school's lakefront location in Evanston, Illinois, gives students easy access to Chicago.

Ohio State University at Columbus

The Ohio State University's Drinko Hall in Columbus, Ohio.

The Ohio State University is one of the largest universities in the country, so it's fitting that they have a stadium that can seat 102,000. The university typically ranks among the top 20 public universities in the country, and its programs in law, business, and political science are particularly noteworthy. OSU's attractive campus is located in the state's largest city, Columbus.

  • Enrollment: 61,170 (46,820 undergraduates)
  • Team: Buckeyes
  • For admission data, see the Ohio State profile.

Penn State University at University Park

Penn State University campus
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Penn State is the flagship campus of Pennsylvania's state university system, and it is also by far the largest. Like several of the big universities on this list, Penn State has strong programs in business and engineering.

  • Enrollment: 46,810 (40,363 undergraduates)
  • Teams: Nittany Lions and Lady Lions
  • For admission data, see the Penn State profile.

Purdue University at West Lafayette

General view of Purdue Boilermakers campus .
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Purdue University in West Lafayette is the main campus of the Purdue University System in Indiana. With over 200 academic programs for undergraduates, Purdue offers something for nearly everybody. Chicago is 65 miles away.

Rutgers University

Rutgers University
Tomwsulcer/Wikimedia Commons

Rutgers University in New Brunswick is the largest of the three State University of New Jersey campuses. The university does well in national rankings of public universities, and students have easy train access to both New York City and Philadelphia.

Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin at Madison)

An outside view of Washburn Observatory on the campus of the University of Wisconsin.
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

The University of Wisconsin's main campus in Madison frequently ranks among the top ten public universities in the country, and it is well respected for the amount and quality of research conducted in its nearly 100 research centers. But students also know how to play. The university frequents lists of top party schools.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Grove, Allen. "Big Ten Conference." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Grove, Allen. (2023, April 5). Big Ten Conference. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "Big Ten Conference." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).