The 27 most dangerous college campuses 2023

The 27 most dangerous college campuses 2023

    We analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Education to create a list of the 27 most dangerous colleges.

    Rape accounts for 60% of the total violent crimes in our analysis (2019-2021).

    Medical campuses exhibit disproportionately high rates of aggravated assault.

    Historic sexual abuse at the hands of college physicians accounts for the top 2 schools on the list.

    In 1986, 19-year-old Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered in Stoughton Hall at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It was one of 38 violent crimes that occurred on that campus in three years. Her parents sued the university and argued that if they had been aware of the number of crimes on campus, their daughter wouldn’t have attended. They won the case, and in 1990, the Clery Act was signed.

    The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal aid programs to report crimes on or around their campuses annually.

    To create the list of most dangerous college campuses, we looked at violent crime data at over 14,000 universities across America from 2019 to 2021.

    Why are these the most dangerous colleges?

    We used Campus Safety and Security data reported to and published by the U.S. Department of Education to analyze violent crimes on campus at public, private, and non-profit universities. We selected colleges with a minimum institution size of 500 students and on-campus student housing facilities.

    The colleges listed have the highest numbers of violent crimes on campus between 2019-2021 (3 years).

    In 2019 alone, a total of 27,300 criminal incidents of the following types were reported to police and security agencies:

    2019 criminal incidents

    PieChart Data
    enter in the editor the amount of columns you want to show
    and their values.

    What is a violent crime?

    A violent crime involves the use of force or threat of force against a person. According to the FBI, violent crimes are:

    • Rape
    • Murder/manslaughter
    • Aggravated assault
    • Robbery

    These crimes are defined as follows by Campus Safety and Security:

    • Rape – The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus, with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.
    • Murder/non-negligent manslaughter – The willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another.
    • Negligent manslaughter – The killing of another person through gross negligence.
    • Robbery – The taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.
    • Aggravated assault – An unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm.

    To create the list of most dangerous colleges we did not consider general criminal offences, arrests, domestic violence, fondling, stalking, dating violence, hate crimes, or any other type of crime the U.S. Department of Education categorizes as a VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) crime aside from the violent crimes listed above.

    Violent crime on college campuses

    Because many universities own and operate properties around their main campuses, we focused on violent crimes committed on campus only.

    Campus Safety and Security defines on campus as, “A reasonably contiguous geographic area comprising of buildings or properties that are owned or controlled by an institution and utilized for educational purposes, including residence halls.”

    It also includes any building or property that is owned by the university but controlled by another person, frequently used by students, and supports institutional purposes (such as a food or retail vendor).

    What did we leave out?

    As part of the Clery Act, postsecondary institutions are required to merge statistics from their own records with those of local law enforcement agencies and then report these under the relevant categories for on-campus, non-campus, and public property.

    Because we want this article’s focus to be on the most dangerous college campuses, we omitted violent crimes that were considered non-campus and public property.

    The most dangerous college campuses

    University name Number of violent crimes on campus reported between 2019-2021*
    1. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1,468
    2. Ohio State University 583
    3. UC Berkeley 242
    4. Xavier University 240
    5. University of Iowa 225
    6. Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine 194
    7. The Pennsylvania State University 138
    8. Stanford University 138
    9. Texas A & M University, College Station 116
    10. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 114
    11. University of Southern California, University Park Campus 111
    12. University of New Mexico 110
    13. Vanderbilt University 109
    14. Auburn University 108
    15. Texas State University 98
    16.  Texas Tech University, Lubbock 96
    17. The University of Alabama 95
    18. Drexel University, University City Campus 90
    19. University of Houston, Central Campus 88
    20. University of Arizona 87
    21.  University of Florida, Gainesville 87
    22. UC San Diego 85
    23. Michigan State University 84
    24. Johns Hopkins University 82
    25. Prairie View A & M University 80
    26. University of Washington, Seattle 80
    27. University of North Texas 78

    *This table does not include statutory rape, and combines murder, negligent manslaughter, and non-negligent manslaughter.

    Disclaimer: The above list of most dangerous campuses uses the absolute number of violent crimes without taking into account relative campus size.

    Sexual abuse committed by university physicians

    Both the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Ohio State University have the highest rates of violent crime because of historic sexual abuse at the hands of university physicians.

    Full legal investigation reports:

    1. Sexual Abuse Committed by Dr. Richard Strauss at the Ohio State University
    2. Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Against Robert E. Anderson at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

    Although these egregious acts happened decades ago, they were only properly investigated and reported in the past few years. In both cases, there is evidence that university personnel had been informed of the abuse and had failed to act at the time.

    Because of the gross negligence on the part of both universities, and the hundreds of students who suffered abuse, the schools will remain on the list of most dangerous universities.

    We reached out to OSU and UMich for comment.

    We received the following statement from OSU:

    “Richard Strauss was a university-employed physician from 1978 to 1998. He died in 2005. Ohio State is a fundamentally different university today and over the past 20 years has committed substantial resources to prevent and address sexual misconduct. These actions include new policies, programs, staffing, and tools throughout the university, including athletics and the medical center. They are summarized here.” – Benjamin Johnson, Director of Media and Public Relations, Ohio State University

    At UMich, we spoke to Melissa Overton, University Deputy Chief of Police and Public Information Officer, who pointed us to the school’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. According to the report, of the 199 rape numbers recorded on campus in 2021, 182 were attributed to Robert E. Anderson; of the 1,212 rape numbers recorded in 2020, 1,194 were attributed to Anderson.

    Most dangerous campuses per 100,000

    As stated above, we didn’t factor institution size in our listing of the most dangerous colleges above. The following list contextualizes the numbers of violent crimes according to institution size.

    University name Number of violent crimes on campus per 100,000 students*
    1. Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Central Danville Campus 10,430
    2. Xavier University 1,161
    3. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1,005
    4. Ohio State University 316
    5. Prairie View A & M University 290
    6. Stanford University 271
    7. Vanderbilt University 269
    8. University of Iowa 246
    9. UC Berkeley 185
    10. University of New Mexico 164
    11. Drexel University, University City Campus 127
    12. Auburn University 116
    13. Johns Hopkins University 93
    14. Texas State University 86
    15. The University of Alabama 83
    16. Texas Tech University, Lubbock 80
    17. University of Southern California, University Park Campus 77
    18. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 73
    19. UC San Diego 70
    20. University of North Texas 64
    21. University of Arizona 63
    22. University of Houston, Central Campus 63
    23. Michigan State University 56
    24. Texas A & M University, College Station 55
    25. University of Washington, Seattle 54
    26. University of Florida, Gainesville 54
    27. The Pennsylvania State University 52

    *This figure shows the number of annual violent crimes per 100,000 students.

    The most dangerous college campus per capita is the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, a private medical school in Pennsylvania.

    When analyzed, we see a general pattern of high rates of aggravated assault on medical campuses. At Geisinger, Central Danville Campus, there are an average of 620 students. In the years 2019-2021, there were around 189 aggravated assaults on the campus, and aggravated assault accounts for 97.4% of all violent crime on this campus.

    Rape on college campus statistics

    In 2019, forcible sex offenses (rape and fondling) accounted for 43% of all criminal incidents. According to RAINN, only 20% of female students aged 18-24 report sexual assault to law enforcement.

    When looking at the most dangerous colleges on our list, rape accounts for 60.4% of the total violent crime we analyzed in the period between 2019 and 2021.

    The following schools have an above-average percentage of rapes on campus out of total violent crimes. A few of these universities are not on the list for most dangerous colleges above, but they exceeded the average for rape and are therefore included here.

    Percentage of rape out of total violent crimes on campus

    PieChart Data
    enter in the editor the amount of columns you want to show
    and their values.

    Why is campus safety important?

    Campus safety is important for protecting the well-being of those who study, work, and visit there, and for creating a safe environment for all students, faculty, and staff. Most campuses have campus police, security, emergency services, and counseling services for students and staff to ensure campus safety.

    What schools are doing about campus safety

    Campus safety is a priority for the vast majority of college campuses. Criminal activity and the looming threat of active shooters on campus are taken very seriously. Universities work from many different angles to ensure people are safe on their campuses.

    Mobile phone apps

    The University of Tampa’s Spartan SOS app allows users to connect with the Department of Campus Safety without having to remember Campus Safety phone numbers or even unlock their phone. Anonymous tips can also be sent through the app.

    Campus crime publications

    Some schools offer online publications, like the Berkeley Scanner, where students can read about crimes in real time. UC Berkeley is third on our list of most dangerous college campuses. This publication gives students insight into what is going on in and around campus.

    Active shooter security measures

    In the wake of the February 13th mass shooting at Michigan State, new security measures are being introduced on campus. This includes additional security cameras throughout campus, keycards for entering campus buildings, lock systems on classroom doors, and starting this fall students, faculty, and staff will need to complete active violence intruder training.

    Conduct your own safety analysis

    High rates of violent crime or a history of covering up violent crime are why universities made this list of most dangerous colleges. The Clery Act was signed to ensure students and parents can access the information needed to take safety into account before choosing a college.

    When looking at which college to attend, learn more about a campus’ crime rate by conducting your own Campus Safety and Security analysis.

    Additional resources

    Campus Safety Magazine

    Caters specifically to individuals in North America who hold positions of responsibility for public safety, security, and emergency management on educational and healthcare campuses.

    Clery Center

    The Clery Center collaborates with college and university communities to establish safer campuses, making it the go-to resource for institutions seeking guidance on campus safety regulations.


    The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is the biggest organization in the country dedicated to combating sexual violence. In addition to its efforts to prevent sexual violence, RAINN also provides assistance to survivors and works to ensure that those who commit these crimes are held accountable.


    The National Organization for Victim Assistance connects victims with services and resources, provides skill-based training, works with crime victims through credentialing programs, and promotes public policy initiatives.


    2.5% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. Male college-aged students (18-24) are 78% more likely than non-students of the same age to be victims of rape or sexual assault.

    Among undergraduate students, 26.4% of females (compared to 6.8% of males) become victims of rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.

    Students are at an increased risk during the first few months of their first and second semesters at college. More than 50% of college sexual assaults occur between August and November.

    Did you enjoy this post?